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Democrats Who Really Like More Than One Presidential Candidate Have Found A Temporary Solution: Give Them All Money

A BuzzFeed News analysis shows that donors are willing to give to multiple Democratic presidential candidates, suggesting that voters aren’t worried about a drawn-out primary.

Posted on April 16, 2019, at 1:06 p.m. ET

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About 1,600 donors have given more than $200 to multiple Democratic presidential candidates this year, with the largest overlap existing among donors who gave to both Kamala Harris and at least one other campaign.

In all, more than 700 donors gave to Harris’s campaign and at least one other. Approximately 170 donors gave more than $200 to both Harris’s and Pete Buttigieg’s campaigns, and roughly 166 gave to both Cory Booker’s and Harris’s campaigns, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis of the latest presidential fundraising numbers, which were filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday and cover the first three months of this year.

The data, along with interviews with some of the donors, reflects an engaged Democratic base that is keeping an early and close eye on the 2020 race, and suggests that voters are not too concerned about a drawn-out primary.

There was also significant overlap between donors who gave to both Beto O’Rourke and Buttigieg and those who gave to both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, according to the analysis.

And although Sanders had the largest number of disclosed donors in the first quarter, only roughly 300 of them overlapped with any other campaign. That’s about the same number as Booker, who reported one-third as many donors.

The data and analysis do not include the smallest-dollar donors; campaigns are not required to report contributors who have given a total of $200 or less. And because Joe Biden is not yet a declared presidential candidate and has not officially raised any money, he wasn’t included in the analysis. (For the data, code, and methodology supporting the analysis, click here.)

Approximately 44 donors gave to the campaigns of three or more women candidates in an election cycle that has seen the most diverse presidential field in history.

Ellen Burns of Wellesley, Massachusetts, gave to four women — Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Harris, and Warren — even though she already has a favorite.

“I’m all in on Kirsten Gillibrand. I think she has the potential to go toe-to-toe with [President Donald] Trump in a way that will be effective,” Burns said, adding that she still wants American voters to get used to hearing from more women candidates. “I’m a little disappointed that the female candidates are just not getting the support they deserve.”

Some crossover donors were eager to see several candidates make it to at least the debate stage this summer. Candidates need to meet a donor threshold to qualify for the debates.

“I want to make sure we have people on the debate stage who have good ideas and that they aren’t drowned out by the same people who have been around,” said Jonathan Dana, a Washington, DC–based lawyer, who has given to Jay Inslee, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, and Buttigieg.

“I don’t think it’s too early right now to have a robust debate and see someone who is very young like Mayor Pete compete with someone like Biden.”

Dana said he supported Sanders in 2016, but now he believes the party needs a new voice. “His time has come and gone, but yet, he’s sucking up a lot of the money.”

With nearly 10 months to go before the Iowa caucuses, donors said they were in no rush to whittle down the expanding Democratic field.

“I think they are all credible candidates,” said Robert Brady of Riverside, Connecticut, who has given to four candidates so far: Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, and Gillibrand.

Brady said he has different reasons for supporting each of the four, but overall, believes their values line up with his.

“They are all smart, principled people, and they stand up for their values — every one of them,” Brady said. “The general election campaign is going to be brutal and is going to require somebody of inordinate toughness to stand up to the shouting and screaming, and they all have that resilience.”

Brady is one of roughly 270 donors who gave more than $200 to three or more Democratic candidates between January and March. About a dozen of those donors have given to five or more candidates. They include Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband Sean Eldridge, a former House candidate and now a political activist; Hollywood producer Andrew Mellett; and entrepreneur Pedro Torres-Mackie.

Sara Garcia, a California-based lawyer, gave $500 each to Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg in the first quarter. “The batch of candidates varies so greatly in their backgrounds, life experiences and level political office experience,” Garcia said. “Diversity is our strength as a party, and I want to see the best woman or man for the job get the nomination, which to me means hearing from everyone. So I support multiple candidates to do my small part to contribute to their resources to get their message heard.”

Many of the donors who have given to multiple campaigns have also not yet reached the maximum contribution of $2,800 for each of the candidates they are supporting. And some said they were still debating backing more candidates.

“I haven’t finished writing checks,” Brady said, “I don't think.”

CORRECTION

Pete Buttigieg’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

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