Elections 2020: Here's who workers at America's biggest employers are backing for president

Alexis Keenan
·Reporter
·16 min read

Americans voting for a presidential candidate this year are less likely to have a job than those who cast ballots in 2016. Despite some recovery in the labor market since pandemic lows in April, the U.S. employment rate remains depressed amid a slowing recovery.

In October 2016, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9%, compared to 7.9% last month — though the actual jobless rate is thought to be even higher.

With jobs top of mind for millions of Americans this election, Yahoo Finance took a look at how much money workers for the largest employers in each battleground state spent to support the presidential nominees during the current election cycle (2019-2020).

As the graphic below shows, workers from these major employers, including Walmart, tended to donate more aggressively to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign and political action committees (PACS) that backed him than they did to President Donald Trump’s campaign and PACs that supported him.

Here’s a look at each battleground state’s largest employer, excluding government employers, and their workers’ recorded political contributions. The largest employer in each state was determined through research from Data Axle, as well as through companies, universities, and state employment bureaus.

Political contributions were determined based on Federal Election Commission (FEC) records where donors indicated working for a specific company.

With the exception of two major donation platforms, ActBlue and WinRed, this list excludes employee donations sent directly to or earmarked for former presidential candidates, congressional candidates, and issue-specific causes. Donations to political organizations whose funds, according to Open Secrets, were spent both supporting the presidential nominees as well as other partisan efforts were included so long as the organization spent funds directly for or against a political nominee.

Graphic credit: David Foster
Graphic credit: David Foster

Texas — 38 electoral votes

Overwhelmingly, Walmart (WMT), with about 1.5 million workers nationwide, is the largest employer across the country, as well as in several of 2020’s battleground states — including Texas, where it employs 158,545 people.

As an “essential business” permitted to remain open during COVID-19 shutdowns, Walmart has avoided pandemic-related layoffs that have befallen large swaths of the retail sector. The company disclosed layoffs in July due to consolidation of its online and brick-and-mortar businesses, but announced in September that it would raise wages for 165,000 employees.

Walmart is the biggest employer in America and the biggest employer in Texas. Image: Getty
Walmart is the biggest employer in America and the biggest employer in Texas. Image: Getty

While Walmart has not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate, its political action committee, Walmart Inc. PAC for Responsible Government, received $15,194 from Walmart employees since 2019. So far this year, the PAC has given 51% of its distributed funds to federal Democratic candidates, and 49% to federal Republican candidates. The company also makes PAC to PAC donations, which between 2019 and today favor GOP causes by 54.5%.

FEC data shows that between 2019 and 2020, Texas’s Walmart employees donated approximately $69,532 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $47,208 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

Among funds targeted to Biden, Walmart employees in Texas, and employees across the country, donated widely to ActBlue, a non-profit entity that allows donors to make contributions online to Democratic candidates, as well as to progressive organizations, and other nonprofits. ActBlue hauled in $66,426 from Walmart workers in Texas during the 2020 election cycle.

Texas’s Walmart employees also contributed $28,204 to WinRed, the Republican counterpart to ActBlue, also an online donation platform that allows contributions to a wide range of conservatives causes.

Because FEC records for WinRed and ActBlue do not consistently specify candidate earmarks, total employee contributions to each entity, even if targeted to non-presidential nominees, are represented for the purpose of this article.

Walmart’s Texas employees gave $2,706 directly to “Biden for President,” and $12,640 directly to “Donald J. Trump for President,” according to FEC data.

Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon has stayed mostly neutral in his public statements concerning presidential candidates, though he did tell Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi on Oct. 26 that the lack of stimulus is taking a toll on the country.

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Trump favored over Biden in Texas with a 2.3 percentage point lead as of Sunday, while FiveThirtyEight showed Trump with a narrower lead of 1.5 points over Biden.

Florida — 29 electoral votes

Walmart is also the largest employer in Florida, with 106,375 workers there. A Democratic win in Florida would represent a shift from the state’s 2016 vote for Trump, who won the state by 103,000 votes, and would jeopardize his chance for a second term because of its large number of electoral votes.

As was the case with Texas, the state’s employees were more likely to donate directly to Trump than to Biden but more likely to back entities that supported the former vice president than to back entities that funded Trump’s campaign.

Florida, St. Cloud, Walmart, employee retrieving and returning shopping carts. (Photo by: Jeff Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Florida, St. Cloud, Walmart, employee retrieving and returning shopping carts. (Photo by: Jeff Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

FEC data shows that between 2019 and 2020, Florida’s Walmart employees donated approximately $42,927 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the campaign of Biden, and $36,119 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

For the 2020 cycle, Walmart’s Florida employees have donated $41,350 to ActBlue and $14,211 to WinRed. Separately, the employees donated $1,139 to “Biden for President” and $12,708 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Biden favored over Trump in Florida with a slim 0.7 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a wider lead of 1.9 percentage points.

Pennsylvania — 20 electoral votes

Following Texas and Florida, Pennsylvania is next in line for the largest number of electoral votes in a battleground state. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the state’s largest employer with more than 90,000 total workers, and 66,920 full-time workers, according to Data Axle. Overwhelmingly, UPMC workers gave more money to Biden and entities that supported Biden.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, UPMC workers donated approximately $483,174 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Biden’s campaign, and $93,806 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

UPMC employees sent $304,760 to ActBlue and $48,937 to WinRed. Separately, the medical center workers gave $122,108 to “Biden for President,” and $33,803 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Biden favored over Trump in Pennsylvania on Sunday with a 4 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a lead of 4.9 percentage points.

Ohio — 18 electoral votes

Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic Foundation, with more than 52,000 employees, and Walmart with 48,948 employees, have run neck and neck for the past couple of years as the state’s largest employers.

As a charitable, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation is prohibited from engaging in presidential politics.

“This means Cleveland Clinic cannot support or oppose any political party, party platform or candidate,” a spokesperson from the Clinic told Yahoo Finance, though interestingly, Cleveland Clinic co-hosted the September presidential debate.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic workers donated approximately $237,233 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the campaign of Biden, and $67,194 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

Employees of the clinic threw $168,744 of support to ActBlue and $30,901 to WinRed, with another $54,079 to “Biden for President” and $20,270 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday, both RealClearPolitics’ average of polls and FiveThirtyEight showed the candidates nearly even, with Trump favored over Biden in Ohio by a fractional 0.3 percentage point.

Michigan — 16 electoral votes

Michigan eked out a razor thin victory for Trump in 2016. Its two largest employers — University of Michigan and General Motors (GM) — provide jobs to a nearly equal number of residents. As of November 2019, University of Michigan employed 52,554 people. General Motors currently employs 48,101 people in Michigan across 30 facilities, down from 52,027 in January 2019.

“We do not endorse presidential candidates,” a GM spokesperson wrote in an email to Yahoo Finance. In April, the country’s largest automobile workers union, United Auto Workers (UAW), a majority of whom work in Michigan, endorsed Biden.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, University of Michigan workers donated a whopping $1,101,013 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $71,222 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

University workers contributed $868,717 to ActBlue and $29,469 to WinRed. $185,052 of the workers’ donations went to “Biden for President,” and $19,209 went to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday, RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Biden favored over Trump in Michigan with a 6.2 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a lead of 8.6 percentage points.

Georgia — 16 electoral votes

Delta Air Lines (DAL) with 80,273 workers, remains Georgia’s top employer, even though nearly 20% of its workforce took voluntary buyouts ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline requiring airlines to retain workers during COVID-19 slowdowns in exchange for federal funding. Delta employees gave more money to Biden and entities that backed Biden.

ATLANTA, UNITED STATES - 2019/11/08: Delta Airlines Boeing 767-400 aircraft seen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, UNITED STATES - 2019/11/08: Delta Airlines Boeing 767-400 aircraft seen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Walmart is Georgia’s second largest employer this year with 60,664 associates.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Delta employees gave $136,491 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Biden’s campaign, and $87,089 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s campaign.

The airline’s employees sent $95,389 to ActBlue and $41,742 to WinRed, as well as $37,878 to “Biden for President” and $31,612 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls on Sunday showed Biden favored over Trump in Georgia by a razor thin 0.8 percentage points, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden ahead by 1.6 percentage points.

North Carolina — 15 electoral votes

Walmart is North Carolina’s largest employer with 55,319 associates.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Walmart’s North Carolina employees gave $26,208 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Biden’s campaign, and $14,390 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Walmart workers supported ActBlue with $25,023 in donations, and WinRed with $6,664. Contributions to “Biden for President” totaled $910, whereas contributions to “Donald J. Trump for President” totaled $5,027.

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls on Sunday showed the race remains extremely tight in North Carolina with Biden favored over Trump by 0.3 percentage points, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden ahead by 2.1 percentage points.

Arizona — 11 electoral votes

Arizona’s largest employer is Banner Health, with 43,102 workers. Other major employers in the state include University of Arizona, which has 26,944 full-time workers, and Walmart, which has 32,981 associates.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Arizona’s Banner Health employees gave $166,632 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Biden’s campaign, and $43,166 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

Banner employees gave $144,509 to ActBlue, $25,360 to WinRed, $18,098 to “Biden for President,” and $12,739 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday, RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Biden favored over Trump in Arizona with a 1.1 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight came up with a widely different estimation showing Biden leading by 3 percentage points.

Wisconsin — 10 electoral votes

Wisconsin has more employees working for University of Wisconsin entities than for any other organization. A spokesperson for the University’s healthcare arm, UW Health, said its latest published headcount is 22,750, though Data Axle says it may have as many as 26,182 employees. Separately, University of Wisconsin has as many as 21,142 employees, bringing the total number for the two university entities between 43,892 and 48,932.

Walmart is Wisconsin’s next largest employer, with approximately 29,780 workers.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, University of Wisconsin and UW Health employees gave a combined $558,943 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Biden’s campaign, and $18,859 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

The university employees sent $419,956 in donations to ActBlue, and $6,841 to WinRed. Separately, the workers donated $118,756 to “Biden for President” and $6,470 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

RealClearPolitics’ average of polls on Sunday showed Biden heavily favored over Trump in Wisconsin with a 6 percentage point lead, and similarly FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a lead of 8.3 percentage points.

Iowa — 6 electoral votes

Employee owned Hy-Vee grocery store company is Iowa’s largest employer in 2020 with 27,993 employees, according to Data Axle. Other large employers include Unity Point Health with 21,409 employees, and University of Iowa with 17,618 employees.

James Sloan an employee at Hy-Vee bagged grocery for a customer Scott Ware Thursday Feb 22 2018 in New Hope, MN.]  Sloan is blind and has been an employee at the store since 2015 JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com (Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images)
James Sloan an employee at Hy-Vee bagged grocery for a customer Scott Ware Thursday Feb 22 2018 in New Hope, MN.] Sloan is blind and has been an employee at the store since 2015 JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com (Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

Hy-Vee’s workers contribute more to the company’s own PAC, Hy-Vee Employees Political Action Committee, than any other political cause. During the 2020 election cycle, company employees contributed $100,732 to the cause, which advocates for the grocery industry at local levels.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Hy-Vee workers donated $34,581 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $11,787 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election campaign.

The grocery workers sent $32,506 to ActBlue, $6,219 to WinRed, $1,725 to “Biden for President,” and $4,483 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday, RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Trump favored over Biden in Iowa with a 0.7 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Trump with a lead of 1.7 percentage points.

Nevada — 6 electoral votes

MGM Resorts International boasted 55,200 employees in 2018, and despite significant layoffs announced in August, it remains the state’s largest employer, an MGM company spokesperson and the state’s employment department confirmed to Yahoo Finance.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, workers for MGM Resorts and its related entities donated $149,762 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $119,991 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Trump re-election campaign.

MGM Resorts workers spent $74,356 funding ActBlue, $41,232 funding WinRed, and separately donated $64,388 to “Biden for President” and $28,173 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

Polling averages from RealClearPolitics’ on Sunday showed Biden favored over Trump in Nevada with a 3.6 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a lead of 5.1 percentage points.

Minnesota — 10 electoral votes

A sign is seen where Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah died today at Mayo Clinic, Saint Mary's Hospital, in Rochester, Minnesota on September 29,2020. - Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the architect of the nation's modern foreign policy and mediator in some of the worst crises to grip the Gulf, died on Tuesday at the age of 91. The government quickly named his half-brother, 83-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, as his successor. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign is seen at Mayo Clinic, Saint Mary's Hospital, in Rochester, Minnesota on September 29,2020.. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Renowned non-profit Mayo Clinic was Minnesota’s largest employer in 2020 with 44,679 employees.

FEC records show that between 2019 and 2020, Mayo employees contributed $332,088 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $70,814 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election.

Mayo employees donated $261,086 to ActBlue, and $33,899 to WinRed. Separately, the workers sent $60,563 to “Biden for President,” and $24,834 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

On Sunday, RealClearPolitics’ average of polls showed Biden favored over Trump in Minnesota with a 4.7 percentage point lead, while FiveThirtyEight showed Biden with a lead of 9.1 percentage points.

Maine’s Second District — 1 of the state’s 4 electoral votes

In Maine, whose electoral votes may be split depending on which candidate wins each congressional district, as well as the state’s popular vote, nonprofit MaineHealth is the largest employer with about 18,000 workers. Maine’s Second District, with 1 electoral vote, is considered battleground territory.

In close second place for number of employees is Hannaford Bros. supermarket chain with 17,000.

Donors who indicated they worked for either “Maine Health” or “MaineHealth” in FCC records between 2019 and 2020, contributed $64,705 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund the Biden campaign, and $140,340 to political entities that in whole or in part help directly fund Trump’s re-election.

MaineHealth workers donated $54,662 to ActBlue, $134,860 to WinRed, and separately, $8,653 to “Biden for President,” and $3,649 to “Donald J. Trump for President.”

FiveThirtyEight’s polling predicts Biden is ahead in Maine’s Second District by 1.7 percentage points.

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect that the Republican PAC, The Lincoln Project, is supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden and not the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

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Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance and former litigation attorney.

Follow Alexis Keenan on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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