Most donors to Trump’s GOP rivals sit out in Nov. race

Seema Mehta, Anthony Pesce
Los Angeles Times

Most of Donald Trump’s Republican presidential primary rivals have come around to his candidacy, but their donors are staying away.

Nearly 95 percent of those who first gave to his GOP primary opponents are sitting out the general election, and of those who are still giving money, many are lining up behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton instead, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of donations over $200.

Trump has outraised Clinton $7.4 million to $2 million among donors who supported his 16 GOP rivals. But that much support for Clinton is notable in a race where her Republican rival is struggling in the money contest.

Clinton brought in $292 million to Trump’s $82 million through the end of August. Add in loans, transfers from joint fundraising committees and super PAC money, and the gulf grows, with $530 million for Clinton and $186 million for Trump, according to Federal Election Commission records through Aug. 31, the most recent period for which figures were available.

Robert Sacks of Santa Fe, N.M., gave $1,000 to Ohio Gov. John Kasich in February; Sacks said he was drawn to the candidate’s humility, centrist appeal and record. After Kasich dropped out, Sacks grew increasingly unnerved by Trump’s rhetoric. In June, he wrote a $1,000 check to Clinton, and he gave an additional $300 to her in August.

“It’s frightening,” said Sacks, a retired college professor.

Billionaire Republicans Sheldon Adelson and Joe Ricketts recently moved off the sidelines, pledging late last month to write seven-figure checks to efforts backing Trump, though it is a sliver of the amount they spent to try to elect Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump has smashed the GOP record for small-dollar donations, receiving more than $100 million from donors who write checks for less than $200; he says he raised $18 million in the 24 hours after Monday’s debate.

But the refusal of Republicans to consolidate behind the nominee is among the reasons Trump trails Clinton badly in fundraising.

Of the donors who backed other Republicans and are still giving, those who favored GOP moderates are giving to Clinton. She beats Trump among those who backed Christie, and gets nearly half of Kasich supporters and 4 out of 10 Bush backers.

Trump is far more favored by those who donated to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina and Rubio.