Reporting by Palmer Gibbs, GRAPHIQ.
When it comes to political fundraising, certain truths hold firm no matter who is in the race: donors in California, New York and Texas always dole out the dough. These so-called ATM states continue to deliver for the 2016 presidential race: An InsideGov analysis found that donors in those three states have given more than $180 million to candidates and super PACs so far this cycle.
The $180,329,978 from those states constitutes 46.4 percent of the total sum contributed between January and September of 2015. A huge portion of that total — $115 million — went to super PACs, which are not restricted in terms of how much money they can collect from individuals and corporations.
Florida elbowed its way into the top four for super PAC giving this year, with Sunshine State donors giving more than $41 million to these groups. Of that total, conservative super PACs collected $40,702,997, buoyed by two Republican presidential candidates who call Florida home — former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
So far this cycle, Texas has delivered the most super PAC money to the presidential race. More than $48 million, virtually all of it for conservative groups, has flowed from there. Two GOP presidential contenders have connections to the Lone Star State: Bush has multiple family ties there, and Sen. Ted Cruz lives in Houston.
The rest of the country follows the Florida and Texas trend, contributing more money overall to conservative super PACs. According to the most recent data available from the Federal Election Commission, of the $228.3 million raised for super PACs so far this year, 90 percent, or $204.7 million, went to conservative groups.
Even donors in deep blue states like California and New York have contributed more to Republican super PACs. In California, donors have bestowed almost $20 million to conservative super PACs and a little over $10 million to Democratic ones. The difference is even more stark in New York, where donors have given Republican groups more than six times what they have given Democratic ones.
Although Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Bush’s campaign, has raised by far the most money (more than $103 million), a batch of five super PACs supporting Cruz have combined to raise almost $38.1 million. Donors to the groups boosting Cruz have written the largest checks so far this cycle.
Robert Mercer, the CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $11 million, while Toby Neugebauer, the founder of private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners, gave $10 million to pro-Cruz super PACs. Additionally, a pair of brothers and their wives gave $15 million to one super PAC supporting Cruz. Farris Wilks and his wife, Joanne, gave $5 million each, and Daniel Wilks and his wife, Staci, gave another $2.5 million each. The Wilks families made their billions in the fracking industry in central Texas.
After the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which ushered in super PACs, these groups have had an outsized influence in American politics. But since super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates’ campaign committees, campaign fundraising remains an important piece of elections.
The maps reflecting super PAC contributions and candidate fundraising are remarkably similar. As was the case with super PAC contributions, the states that gave the most to candidates’ official committees are California, Texas, New York and Florida. And, again, Republicans bested Democrats: Donors in those four states contributed $43.2 million to GOP candidates and $36.4 million to Democrats.
California and New York were friendlier to left-leaning candidates. Of the almost $16 million raised for Democrats in California, more than $13.5 million went to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In New York, which she represented in the Senate and where her campaign headquarters is based, Clinton collected more than $11.1 million of the total $12.2 million that went to Democratic candidates.
California-based donors chipped in almost $10 million to Republicans, with about $2.5 million going to Bush and almost $2.3 million going to Rubio. About $6.2 million went to GOP candidates from New Yorkers, with a little less than half of that going to Bush’s campaign.
In Texas, of the $20.5 million raised for candidates, almost $17 million went to Republicans. Cruz’s campaign received the lion’s share of that sum, at $9.2 million, while Bush collected $2.4 million. And in Florida, native sons Bush and Rubio were, again, first and second in fundraising. Of the $10.2 million from that state that went to Republicans, Bush collected about $4.7 million and Rubio received about $2.6 million.
In total, super PAC and campaign fundraising so far has brought in almost $390 million — and Election Day is still a year away. That can only mean one thing: Expect plenty more fundraising events and email pleas before the country decides on who is the next commander in chief.