NYT : The Two Americas Financing the Trump and Biden Campaigns

October 26, 2020

Joe Biden has outraised President Trump on the strength of some of the wealthiest and most educated ZIP codes in the United States, running up the fund-raising score in cities and suburbs so resoundingly that he collected more money than Mr. Trump on all but two days in the last two months, according to a New York Times analysis of $1.8 billion donated by 7.6 million people since April.

The data reveals, for the first time, not only when Mr. Biden decisively overtook Mr. Trump in the money race — it happened the day Senator Kamala Harris joined the ticket — but also what corners of the country, geographically and demographically, powered his remarkable surge.

Amount raised by day, in millions

AprilMayJuneJulyAug.Sept.Oct.$5$10$15$20$25$30$35 millionraised per dayTrump’s birthdayDonaldspeech at the R.N.C.Donald Trump’snamed as V.P. pickKamala Harrispresidential debateFirstBidenTrump
Source: Federal Election Commission | Data is from April 1, 2020, through Oct. 14, 2020.

The findings paint a portrait of two candidates who are, in many ways, financing their campaigns from two different Americas.

It is not just that much of Mr. Biden’s strongest support comes overwhelmingly from the two coasts, which it does. Or that Mr. Trump’s financial base is in Texas, which it is. It is that across the country, down to the ZIP code level, some of the same cleavages that are driving the 2020 election — along class and education lines — are also fundamentally reshaping how the two parties pay for their campaigns.

For years, affluent and college-educated voters, mostly white, had been the base of the Republican Party. Exit polls showed Republicans winning college graduates nationally from 1988 to 2004, and again in 2012. Voters who earned at least $100,000 have historically sided with most Republican presidential candidates by comfortable margins, too.

But under Mr. Trump, Republicans have hemorrhaged support from white voters with college degrees, who polls show have been repelled by his embrace of a politics of cultural division and racial grievance.

The fund-raising data suggests that erosion is not only harming the party’s electoral prospects but also its economic bottom line.

Mr. Trump lost the money race in 2016, too, but he mobilized a base of white working-class voters then that offset his losses among college-educated voters. Now he is trying to leverage the powers of incumbency to do that to an even greater degree. But win or lose, Mr. Trump has accelerated a political realignment.

In ZIP codes with a median household income of at least $100,000, Mr. Biden smashed Mr. Trump in fund-raising, $486 million to only $167 million — accounting for almost his entire financial edge. In the rest of the country, the two were knotted closely together.

Amount raised (in millions), by median household income of ZIP codes

$250Millions raised$200$150$100$50$0$50$100$150$200$250$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000$250,000+Medianhousholdincome$486 million to Bidenfrom wealthier ZIPcodes$581 million to Bidenfrom less wealthy ZIPcodes$167 million to Trumpfrom wealthier ZIPcodes$565 million to Trumpfrom less wealthy ZIPcodes
Sources: Federal Election Commission; socialexplorer.com | Notes: All ZIP codes with a median household income above $250,000 or higher are grouped into the highest category. Data is from April 1, 2020 to Oct. 14, 2020.

It was a similar story in the most educated pockets of the country, only even more pronounced.

Of the ZIP codes where at least 65 percent of people had graduated from college — just over 1,000 out of nearly 32,000 populated ZIP codes that reported donations — Mr. Biden outraised Mr. Trump $478 million to $104 million. Below that education level, Mr. Trump was ahead by nearly $40 million.

Amount raised (in millions), by education level of ZIP codes

$150Millions raised$100$50$0$50$100102030405060708090%Share withcollegedegree$478 million to Bidenin more highlyeducated ZIP codes$591 million to Bidenin less educated ZIPcodes$104 million to Trumpin more highlyeducated ZIP codes$630 million to Trumpin less educated ZIPcodes
Sources: Federal Election Commission; socialexplorer.com | Note: Total donation amounts are grouped based on the share of adults 25 or over with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the ZIP code where the donation was made. Data is from April 1, 2020 to Oct. 14, 2020.

“Alienating white college-educated voters means more than just losing their votes; it’s also literally costing them money,” said Amy Walter, the national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “These are the kinds of places that, not that long ago, hosted high-dollar fund-raisers exclusively for G.O.P. candidates. Now, those donors are sitting in their living rooms, tapping out donations to Democrats around the country via their smartphones.”

The analysis looked at more than 25 million donations from April 1 to Oct. 14, merging Federal Election Commission filings from the campaigns of Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, their joint operations with the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, and data from the donation-processing sites WinRed and ActBlue.

The analysis does not include direct donations to the parties themselves, but it covers more than 90 percent of contributions to Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden and the committees directly linked to them, from $1 gifts to checks of more than $700,000. The average donation to those committees was $71 for Mr. Trump and $76 for Mr. Biden.

Over all, Mr. Biden raised $1.07 billion and Mr. Trump $734 million over the last six months in the 32,000 populated ZIP codes, the analysis shows.

The period analyzed is not a perfect snapshot. Mr. Trump was seeking money from donors, including in wealthy enclaves, in the months before Mr. Biden first emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee. But during the six months in which the choice was between these two men, the disparity was yawning.

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