WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be further apart than any two presidential candidates in recent memory, but they share at least one thing in common: Jewish donors make up the top tier of those opening their checkbooks for their campaigns.
According to the latest Federal Election Commission disclosure, American Jewish donors funneled more than $90 million into the presidential campaigns of Democratic nominee Clinton and her Republican opponent Trump. The controversial real estate mogul, however, has failed to gain the support of several typical GOP donors to whom a more conventional candidate might have appealed.
Making their contributions through campaign committees, joint fundraising entities and allied super-PACs, Clinton’s five biggest financial backers are Jewish, and so are Trump’s top two.
The largest individual donor in this cycle has been Donald Sussman, a founding partner at the Paloma Partners hedge fund, based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Thus far, he’s given more than $20 million to Clinton’s campaign, mostly through a super PAC supporting her bid, Priorities USA Action.
Clinton’s four other top donors are JB and Mary Kathryn Pritzker, Haim and Cheryl Saban, George Soros and S. Daniel Abraham. Along with Sussman, they have collectively contributed $69.7 million to the campaign, according to an assessment by Bloomberg Politics.
Pritzker, founder of the Pritzker Group and scion of the famed Chicago family, donated $15 million to the former secretary of state; Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul who has long been a faithful supporter of Clinton, has given $12.5 million; Soros, a Hungarian-born business magnate, chipped in $11.8 million, far more than he gave to Barack Obama four years ago; and Abraham, an American businessman and philanthropist, contributed $9.6 million.
Other prominent Jewish Americans who have poured money into Clinton’s bid are filmmaker Steven Spielberg, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and entertainment industry executive David Geffen.
The amount that Jewish donors have pitched in to Clinton’s campaign far exceeds the amount granted to her adversary. Trump’s largest funder is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has a propensity to donate lavishly to Republican nominees and whose donation to Trump was $10.5 million.
Along with his Israeli-born wife, Miriam, Adelson bestowed at least $98 million on Republicans in the 2012 election cycle, making the couple the highest individual political donors in America that year. It is not clear exactly how much he gave to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that year because several of the groups to which he contributed are not required to disclose their donors.
The New York Times reported late last month that the Las Vegas billionaire had given up hope Trump would prevail on November 8, and decided instead to focus on down-ballot races and on trying to secure a GOP majority in Congress.
He remains the single largest overall contributor in the country for 2016, as his family has given two super PACs supporting Senate and House Republicans $20 million each.
Perhaps Adelson’s biggest boost to Trump came last week, when The Las Vegas Review-Journal, an outlet he owns, became the first major newspaper to endorse the business mogul. A number of traditionally conservative publications — The Arizona Republic, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Dallas Morning News — have endorsed Clinton.
Trump’s second biggest donor is Bernard Marcus, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants who co-founded Home Depot. He’s given $7 million to the former reality television star.
Other prominent GOP Jewish backers pulling out their wallets to make large contributions for Trump are few and far between. One of the candidate’s friends whom he often mentions on the trail and has named as someone he’d consider for a spot in a Trump cabinet, corporate raider Carl Icahn, has donated a mere $50,000 to his campaign.
While Clinton has attracted far more support from Jewish donors than Trump, both have accrued millions from a select assortment of billionaires. Throughout this election cycle, both candidates have repeatedly argued the wealthy have too much influence over national politics. Six years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case opened extensive channels for unlimited spending on elections, they both are benefiting from the aftereffects.
It has usually been the case that the Democratic nominee accumulates more in donations from Jewish backers than the Republican hopeful. In 2012, for instance, 71% of the $160 million that Jewish donors contributed to the two nominees went to Obama’s re-election bid, whereas 29% went to Romney’s campaign, according to an analysis by the FiveThirtyEight political statistics analysis website.
Those figures tend to align with overall political support patterns in the American Jewish community. Since 1928, an average of 75% of the Jewish vote has gone to the Democratic candidate in each presidential election. Obama lost 9% of his Jewish support from 2008 to 2012, going from 78% to 69%.
The FiveThirtyEight survey noted that the GOP’s reliable Jewish donors are deserting their party’s official nominee this year. As of September 21, 95% of the donors who appear to be Jewish gave to Clinton and just 5% to Trump, it said.