Remember back to the 2016 Democratic primaries, when Seattle was “Berning.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign really caught fire here, and while that was also true of many liberal strongholds, Seattle stood out. As I wrote in a column from March that year, we ranked No. 1 among the 50 largest U.S. cities for per capita contributions to Sanders, who ultimately lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.
Sanders is still pulling in a lot of money here — he totaled $1,094,000 in donations from city residents through the end of 2019, according to data from the Federal Elections Commission. While that put him in the lead among the Democratic contenders, Elizabeth Warren is a very close second. The Massachusetts senator raised $1,024,000.
In fact, Warren was slightly ahead of Sanders among Seattleites through the third quarter of last year. Sanders posted stronger numbers and pulled ahead in the fourth quarter, as Warren’s campaign lost some steam nationally.
Of course, in 2016, Sanders had the progressive lane all to himself in the primaries. This time around, he has competition from Warren, whose stump speech calls for “big, structural change,” including a wealth tax and eliminating most student debt, and she’s signed on to “Medicaid for All.” (Andrew Yang, who has proposed a plan for universal basic income, may have also attracted some former Sanders supporters; Yang raised about $462,000 in Seattle.)
The data includes contributions made directly to the candidate in addition to contributions made to nonprofit ActBlue’s PAC that donors earmark for the candidate.
There are a number of reasons Warren might be peeling away support from Sanders in Seattle, but one is probably demographics. She polls well among white, college-educated Democrats — and as you probably already know, that’s a sizable chunk of the Seattle populace. So it’s no wonder Warren drew a crowd of 15,000 when she spoke at Seattle Center in August.
Sanders polls best with noncollege white and Hispanic folks, as well as the youngest voters.
Sanders also has the edge in terms of the number of individuals from Seattle who’ve contributed to his campaign: 8,800 vs. Warren’s 7,100. That indicates that Sanders has smaller average donation amounts than Warren.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who had a strong showing in the Iowa caucus, is not that far behind the top two in Seattle. His total haul was $942,000 from about 5,500 individuals.
And just as he did in the Iowa caucus, former Vice President Joe Biden had a fourth-place showing in Seattle in terms of money raised. Despite being the national front-runner in most polls, he has pulled in about $563,000 from 3,800 city residents.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a distant sixth, after Yang, at $204,000.
Both Sanders and Warren have been critical of Amazon, and pointing out that the Seattle-based online-retail giant paid no federal income tax last year has become part of their stump speeches. But that hasn’t deterred some Amazon employees from contributing to these candidates.
Sanders received a total of about $62,000 from Amazon employees who live in Seattle, while Warren took in $51,000 from them. That’s more than any of the other candidates, but Yang was right behind Warren at $50,000 — and that means nearly 10% of Yang’s total Seattle donations came from folks who work for Amazon.
Both Sanders and Warren have strong appeal among tech workers. Their top occupations for campaign donations from Seattle is software engineer. But Sanders raised more money from teachers and nurses, while Warren led among physicians and attorneys.
(It should be noted that some people do not list an occupation accurately when donating to a political campaign.)
Among Seattle ZIP codes, both Warren and Sanders have gotten the most money from 98103, which includes Fremont, Wallingford, Phinney, Green Lake and Licton Springs. And that stretch of North Seattle was nearly equally split between the two candidates in donation totals. Sanders took in about $118,000 from that area, while Warren received $107,000. Buttigieg’s top ZIP code is Capitol Hill/Central District/Madrona’s 98122, where he raised $78,000.
While Warren and Sanders have quite a bit of overlap in terms of policy, their personal styles are very different. Unlike Sanders, Warren often recounts her personal history, and she famously stands for hours after her speeches to pose for selfies with anyone who wants one.
If campaign contributions are a reliable indicator, the strategy seems to be working for her in Seattle.
And what about President Donald Trump? Unsurprisingly, he isn’t too popular among Seattle residents. Trump raised about $191,000 through September, both through cash donations and merchandise sales.
Correction: A previous version of this column misidentified the state Sen. Amy Klobuchar represents.