More than 24,000 Seattle residents gave money to Bernie Sanders during the presidential-primary campaign. When it comes to the general election, most of those Bernie supporters are keeping their wallets shut.
Seattle has a new kind of 1 percenter.
Of the 24,700 city residents who contributed to Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries, just 261 — a smidgen over 1 percent — have gone on to give money to another presidential candidate.
Of that small group, nearly all have moved their donation to Hillary Clinton. Green Party candidate Jill Stein received money from just 20 ex-Sanders supporters, but that’s enough to rank second.
That data comes from Crowdpac, a nonpartisan political-research startup based in based in Menlo Park, Calif. Their team developed an algorithm to analyze data from campaign-contribution records, making it possible to track the donation history of individuals across election cycles.
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Perhaps what they found is not surprising. Sanders inspired a legion of small-time contributors, many of whom might not normally donate to a political campaign at all.
The data suggest that Seattle is indeed a “Bernie or bust” town — at least when it comes to giving money to other candidates. As I wrote back in March, we fell hard for Sanders, shelling out more per capita to his campaign than residents of any other major city.
Chelsea Nesvig, an academic librarian who lives on Capitol Hill, remembers her disappointment when the Vermont senator endorsed Clinton, signaling that his fight for the White House was over.
Nesvig, who made a couple of small donations to Sanders, is among the roughly 24,000 in Seattle who have not contributed to another candidate. Still, Nesvig will cast her vote for Clinton. The possibility of a Trump presidency, she feels, is too frightening.
Nesvig cautiously calls herself a Clinton supporter — “Are you a supporter if you just say you’re going to vote for her?” — but has no plans to send any money Clinton’s way.
“I feel like she’s got plenty of money,” she said. “And that’s one of the things I don’t love about her.”
But Dallas Taylor, a novelist and freelance carpenter on Capitol Hill, didn’t skip a beat moving on from Bernie to Hillary, whom he supports enthusiastically.
“I switched my ActBlue monthly donations to Hillary about a month before the convention, when it was clear that she had it,” he said.
He wasn’t terribly surprised to learn that he’s among the 1 percent: “A lot of the super hard-core Bernie people, especially in Seattle, are privileged enough not to be endangered by a Trump presidency directly,” he said.
Taylor, who calls himself a pragmatic progressive, says he never expected Sanders would win. But he felt the campaign was important in how it democratized fundraising and forced Clinton more to the left. These days, he’s trying to convince his progressive friends to get behind Clinton.
“I really believe that deep in her heart, Hillary Clinton is a progressive. But she’s also a realist. Nobody plays at that level without getting a little dirty,’ he said. “I’ve never held that against her … and people have this perception that she’s much dirtier than she is.”
He’d have a hard time convincing Susan Jacobs, a lighting designer from West Seattle. She can recite a long list of things she doesn’t like about Clinton — from her support of the fracking industry to her past position opposing gay marriage.
While she has a very low opinion of Donald Trump, Jacobs doesn’t feel Clinton is that much better. “This is our choice — Trump or Hillary? That’s absurd,” she said. “I’m going to vote for the person who most aligns with my values, and that’s Jill Stein.”
Jacob, who contributed to Sanders, hasn’t given to Stein yet. But she’s considering it.
Just eight Seattleites who gave money to Sanders have donated to Donald Trump. I managed to track one of them down.
I told him he was one of eight. “It makes me kind of interesting,” he replied.
A tech worker who lives in Belltown, he would only talk to me if his name wasn’t used, saying he was afraid of repercussions at his workplace. Though he calls his feelings about Trump “complicated,” he sent him money because “ … he is the only credible outsider at this time.”
Even so, he might vote for Gary Johnson. the Libertarian candidate, or Stein. The one thing he’s sure of is that he won’t vote for Clinton. “Hillary is part of an insider group that’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “And that’s a real threat.”
One caveat: The data on candidate contributions present only a partial picture. By law, contributions of $200 or more are required to have donor names and other information. Small individual donations may not be included in the data.