WASHINGTON – He may have received close to half the primary votes in the state, but presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump got just 3 percent of the money Arizonans gave to 2016 Republican presidential campaigns, according to the latest campaign finance numbers.
The numbers from the Federal Election Commission show that Trump had pulled in just $108,000 of the $3.6 million contributed to the 16 Republicans who were in the field at one time or another.
But those who have given to Trump were more generous than contributors to other Republicans. The 323 contributions to Trump averaged $336 – about four times the average donation to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The last shall be first
The likely presidential nominee for both major parties (in bold) was not the biggest fundraiser in Arizona, according to the latest Federal Election Commission numbers.
DEMOCRATS: $3 million
REPUBLICANS: $3.6 million
Experts said Trump’s lack of campaign cash from the state is not surprising, given his unconventional campaign and its lack of a fundraising effort. And they note that he held a fundraiser when he was in the Valley recently, which could boost totals from Arizona in his next funding report.
“Rarely do you ever see someone … simply not solicit contributions,” said Republican political consultant Jason Rose. “The amount of money Donald did raise because of the enthusiasm for him is rather impressive, despite no proactive efforts to gin up money.”
Ruth Jones, a professor emerita of political science at Arizona State University who specializes in campaign finance, said it’s not just Arizona – Trump’s campaign has not been focused on fundraising anywhere in the country.
He hasn’t had to, she said. While most traditional campaigns spend on media buys and staffing, Trump’s campaign has received plenty of free media coverage and has a lean staff.
Trump’s fundraising stands in stark contrast to the money that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney raised in the state at this time four years ago: Romney had more than 6,000 individual donations totaling more than $3.5 million.
Rose pointed out that Romney pushed fundraising and had connections to the business and Mormon communities in Arizona, which Trump does not have. Rose also said Romney was “universally respected,” while opinions of Trump are mixed.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm, there was a lot of respect for Mitt Romney, whether people knew him or whether they didn’t know him,” Rose said. “Trump creates a lot of different opinions.”
Jones said the difference between Romney and Trump’s campaign contribution numbers can be attributed to how they ran their campaigns.
“Romney has been a party person … he was part of the party organization,” Jones said. “So when his campaign was being structured and so forth, they were thinking party.
“From my understanding, Trump hasn’t thought party at all,” she said. “He’s really been this isolated individual candidate. He’s a personal candidate, not a party candidate.”
Cruz, who dropped out of the presidential race in May, had 12,664 individual donations and raised just over $1 million in Arizona.
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But Trump got plenty of support from Arizonans at the polls, winning 46 percent of the Republican vote in the state’s presidential preference election on March 22 to 15 percent for Cruz, who finished in second place.
Rose said whether or not the state’s big contributors support Trump will be more evident in the next campaign finance report he files.
Trump held a large fundraising event earlier this month at the former home of Barry Goldwater in Paradise Valley. The home, now owned by Bob and Karen Hobbs, is where Goldwater kicked off his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1964.
Rose said the next campaign report will be more telling, as it will include any funds raised at that event.
“If the figure is paltry, that will certainly signal some political problems in the horizon,” Rose said.
“A fundraiser like that, the presumptive nominee on Saturday at a well-regarded businessman’s house, that’s an event that should have raised $300,000 to $600,000,” Rose said. “And if it didn’t, that indicates a donor class having a lack of enthusiasm for him.”
Jones said money will likely pour in from big Republican contributors, but it may be for other races and down-ticket candidates.
“You’re going to see the big Republican money in this campaign, it just may not be at the presidential level,” Jones said.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to several requests for comment for this story.