Pete Buttigieg Wins Fight for Campaign Donations from Virginia

In a post over at Blue Virginia, Lowell Feld highlighted how VPAP has posted an excellent breakdown showing how much Virginians have donated to the various presidential candidates. In what might come as a surprise to many people, it turns out that Pete Buttigieg has been the most successful Democratic candidate when it comes to receiving campaign donations from Virginians.

As of the last fundraising deadline at the end of June, the South Bend mayor has received $483,180 from Virginians. That’s over $200,000 more than Joe Biden’s $279,797 and almost triple Kamala Harris’s third place total of $180,042. While there hasn’t been a major poll done in Virginia in almost two months, which means the debates and other factors haven’t been fully measured here, these fundraising totals are interesting considering Mayor Pete was only polling at 11% in a Hampton University poll back in the beginning of June.

The polling numbers put him in fourth place and 25 points behind Biden, which obviously means he’d have a lot of ground to make up before Virginia’s primary on March 3. If you used the percentage of their donations compared to the overall amount made to Democrats as a way to measure the candidates, however, Mayor Pete would be sitting at a pretty 25.36%. The top five would be rounded out by Biden at 14.69%, Sen. Harris at 9.45%, Sen. Warren at 9.43%, and Bernie at 8.99%.

Another interesting way of looking at the breakdown of donors is the number of individual donors each candidate had as it fits into some of the naratives the campaigns are trying to promote. Among the candidates with the five largest campaign hauls from Virginia, for instance, Joe Biden had the fewest number of individual donations made with 925. This plays into the narrative that Biden has been concentrating on large dollar donors as the $302.48 average for each donation Biden received is five times higher than the $60.96 average for the 2,812 donations made to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Of the candidates in the top five, in fact, Biden was the only one who didn’t surpass the 1,000 individual donations level even though he received the second highest dollar amount. The rest of the top five broke down as follows; Mayor Pete had 1,733 donations averaging $278.81, Sen. Harris had 1,188 donations averaging $151.38, and Sen. Warren had 1,818 donations averaging $98.87. Both Warren and Sanders have been speaking out about how even the Democrats have become too beholden to large dollar donors, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they’re the only candidates in the top five whose average donation is less than the $100 level.

For all of these candidates, including Donald Trump, Northern Virginia ended up being the region with the largest amount of campaign donations (though VPAP split this up into “Northern Virginia” and “inside the beltway.”) On the Democratic side, Mayor Pete was the only candidate in the top five that received less than half of his campaign donations from Northern Virginia. And he came in at 48.82%. The rest of the top five were Bernie at 54.75% of donors coming from NoVA, Sen. Warren at 63.46%, Biden at 75.63%, and Sen. Harris at 80.73%.

I had been ready to suggest that Rep. Don Beyer’s support of Mayor Pete might be one of the reasons that he did so well in the fundraising department, but it appears as though he did the best among the top Democratic candidates at spreading his base of support throughout the Commonwealth (though he did raise more in Beyer’s area than every candidate but Biden did across the entire Commonwealth). This is probably in part due to a campaign swing this past spring that featured an appearance by Mayor Pete at a state party event in Richmond and several smaller events scattered throughout the state.

For Democrats who are more interested in making sure Trump is defeated than examining who has the biggest campaign war chest at the moment, perhaps the best news is Democratic candidates have out raised Donald Trump. While Democrats raised $1,905,240 during a time when they’re focused in on gaining control of both chambers of the General Assembly, President Trump fell almost $400,000 short of that total with $1,570,007. That puts Democrats at bringing in 54.82% of the presidential campaign donations from Virginia compared to 45.18 for Trump, which is a significantly larger margin than five points Hillary Clinton won by at the polls here in 2016.

With all that being said, I imagine the candidates who are on the ballot this year for state and local offices would love to see even a fraction of all this money coming to support their efforts.

About Bryan J. Scrafford

Bryan Scrafford grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and stayed in the region for both college and his professional life. An avid baseball and hockey fan, Bryan's also involved with several advocacy organizations fighting for economic justice, LGBT rights, and other issues. You can follow him on twitter at @bscrafford and Instagram at @bjscrafford
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