Campaign cash

DOVER — It’s no surprise Joe Biden has raised the most money from Delawareans contributing to presidential candidates, but what may raise some eyebrows is that he is not the leader when it comes to the number of donors from the First State.

In fact, it’s not even close: President Trump has picked up contributions from more Delawareans than the other 20-plus candidates combined, despite the strong registration advantage the Democratic Party enjoys here.

Data from the Federal Election Commission reveals that as of the end of June, 936 Delawareans have made 3,251 donations directly to candidates running for president of the United States. Their contributions total $519,603.21, more than 11 other individual states.

Delawareans gave about $1.54 million to presidential candidates in the 2016 cycle and $2.25 million in the 2012 campaign.

In all, 19 candidates have received money from Delawareans, although only eight have picked up checks from at least 10 people and only four have collected donations from 50 or more Delawareans.

While Delaware is a solidly blue state — its three electoral votes went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, the seventh straight presidential election the Democratic nominee has won the popular vote in the First State — the Trump campaign has some built-in advantages that help explain its success in appealing to donors.

President Trump has been campaigning for 2020 essentially since the day he was sworn into the White House, and the data reflects that: He received about 970 contributions for the 2020 election from Delawareans between election day 2016 and the start of 2019. Most Democratic candidates, in contrast, did not officially declare until this year.

In total, President Trump has pulled in $138,000 from 473 Delawareans.

David Redlawsk, the chair of the University of Delaware’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, said incumbent presidents “are always fundraising powerhouses” and the Trump campaign is “making very specific efforts to go for low dollars to show grassroots” support.

Unlike Republicans, Democratic donors are being pulled “roughly 1,000 ways,” he noted.

Although the exact number of “major” Democratic hopefuls varies depending on your definition (and is obviously significantly less than 1,000), even using a narrow definition produces far more serious contenders for the Democratic nomination than the Republican one. A YouGov poll released this week included 25 Democratic candidates, with 14 pulling in at least 1 percent.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is the only Republican of note challenging President Trump for the GOP nomination.

Delaware’s favorite son, Mr. Biden, the former vice president who served as one of the First State’s two U.S. senators for 36 years, received donations from 275 state residents totaling about $293,000.

Not surprisingly, his donors include a number of prominent political figures and business leaders, such as Sen. Tom Carper, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, former Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Technical Community College President Mark Brainard and ex-DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman.

Despite some stumbles, including what critics called a mediocre showing at a debate last month, Mr. Biden remains in the lead in most polls.

Third (and second among Democratic candidates) in both donations and money raised from Delaware is South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with a little more than $32,000 from 55 Delawareans.

Although most recent polls have Mr. Buttigieg in fifth place, the youngest member of the Democratic field clearly has an appeal for many Delaware voters.

Dr. Redlawsk found Mr. Buttigieg’s status as the leading Democratic fundraiser in Delaware who isn’t from the state to be a bit surprising, pointing to his standing in polls.

He’s followed by two fiery progressives, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Sanders of Vermont has raised almost $12,000 from 52 donors, while Sen. Warren, who represents Massachusetts, has received about $13,000 from 35 Delaware residents.

The only other individual with contributions from more than 10 Delawareans is Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who has collected 15 donations totaling about $4,700.

Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and ex-U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland received one donation apiece from Delaware.

“He is an authentic, smart former governor who is able to work across parties, able to tolerate vulnerability, respects differences, and is genuinely a good person,” Marijo Lucas, the sole Delaware resident to contribute to the Hickenlooper campaign, wrote in an email about her preferred candidate. “I like that he is not rehearsed and polished, and that he is not angry and emotionally reactive.

“Unfortunately in today’s political climate he has gone unnoticed among a field of loud, angry voices playing politics. I believe it is important to support our moderate candidates to ensure those of us who are moderate continue to have a range of options who can appeal to voters in the general election.”

Twenty-three Delawareans contributed to multiple candidates, with Jim Stewart, the CEO at a northern New Castle marketing firm, giving money to Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

Of those 23 instances, the most popular pairing was Sens. Sanders and Warren, with three Delawareans giving money to each. Two Delawareans gave to both Mr. Buttigieg and Sen. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Sen. Harris, and, oddly enough, Mr. Biden and President Trump.

Individuals from 47 different municipalities in Delaware have contributed to presidential campaigns so far. By far the most popular city or town in terms of number of donors is Wilmington, the state’s largest city.

Americans can contribute $2,800 per candidate per election, with the primary and general elections counting separately.

Who are Delawareans giving money to?
Below is a breakdown of the 19 presidential candidates Delawareans have given money to as of the end of June. With the exception of Donald Trump, all of the listed individuals are Democrats.

Michael Bennet: $1,101 from four donors
Joe Biden: $293,044 from 275 donors
Cory Booker: $11,956 from eight donors
Steve Bullock: $585 from two donors
Pete Buttigieg: $32,349.57 from 55 donors
John Delaney: $500 from one donor
Tulsi Gabbard: $750 from two donors
Kirsten Gillibrand: $750 from three donors
Kamala Harris: $4,732.48 from 15 donors
John Hickenlooper: $500 from one donor
Jay Inslee: $250 from one donor
Amy Klobuchar: $3,366.74 from 10 donors
Seth Moulton: $1,250 from two donors
Beto O’Rourke: $3,322 from 10 donors
Bernie Sanders: $11,933.76 from 52 donors
Donald Trump: $138,000 from 473 donors
Elizabeth Warren: $13,180.53 from 35 donors
Marianne Williamson: $495.13 from three donors
Andrew Yang: $1,537 from eight donors

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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