Is the Trump Wave Affecting MN Fundraising Campaigns?

Federal Elections Commission reports show federal campaigns fundraising benefiting from Trump’s candidacy, months after his surprising win.

Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s no secret that the 2016 presidential election had a major effect on local politics around the country.

The so -called “Trump Wave,” as referred to by media pundits, swept the country by storm as most counties in the nation turned red for the future president.

Minnesota saw the effects of the Trump wave as it came closer to voting Republican then it has done in the last 30 years. President Donald Trump lost the state to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes, or 1.5 percent. Minnesota Republicans retained control of House and gained control of the Senate.

Now, as analysts and political operatives prepare for the midterm elections in 2018, many are pondering whether the Trump wave will continue into 2018.

Minnesota has already gotten a taste of what 2018 could potentially look like with the special election in 32B. As reported by Alpha News, State Rep. Anne Neu (R-North Branch) won the February 15 election, almost a month into Trump’s administration. 

Now a report by Bloomberg Politics shows U.S. House campaigns have seen an uptick in donations by approximately 45 percent on both sides of the political spectrum. During the first quarter of the President’s term, campaigns have received $96.1 million compared to $66.2 million just two years ago according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Republicans raised slightly more than Democrats – raising $49.8 million to the Democrats $46.3 million.

Alpha News analyzed first quarter totals going back to 2008 to see if Minnesota’s D.C. representatives are seeing a boost in funds in wake of a Trump presidency.

FEC reports show Minnesota Democrats outraised Republicans three-to-one, raising $3.99 million compared to the $1.22 million raised by Republicans. Minnesota has seven DFL representatives in Washington, compared to three GOP representatives. The democratic windfall is large in part to totals raised by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, $1.45 million, Sen. Al Franken, $1.26 million, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, $751,000.

The $750K mark in Q1 of 2017 for Ellison is a significant spike in his average first quarter total. From 2007 to 2016 Ellison averaged about $170K in the first quarter of the year. The three-quarters of a million dollar boost are approximately 40 percent of his total first quarter fundraising from 2007-2016. However, the significant spike could be correlated to Ellison’s race for DNC Chair and subsequent appointment as Deputy Chair.

Sen. Al Franken, whose political capital and media presence has risen after the election of Trump has done incredibly well in Q1 of 2017. While Franken raised $1.26 million in the first quarter, it isn’t the first time he’s hit the million dollar mark in the first quarter. In 2007 and 2008, Franken raised $1.35 million and $2.18 million respectively. Since then, Franken has raised less than $500,000 in first quarter reports from 2009-2016. The millions raised by Franken came during his run for Senate in 2008, where he defeated Republican Norm Coleman. Data relating to Franken’s re-election fundraising in 2013-2014 was unavailable on the FEC website.

Likewise, Klobuchar’s uptick in fundraising could be related to her rise in political capital and presence in the media. Alpha News reported earlier in April about chatter surrounding a Klobuchar bid for White House. Klobuchar, who previously never raised more than a million dollars within the first quarter of a year, saw almost $1.5 million come in for her re-election bid for 2018. Still, the staggering amount is unusual as Klobuchar’s first quarter totals indicate she tends to lay low at the beginning of the year. In 2013, a year before re-election, Klobuchar only raised $35,000 in the first quarter, and in 2014’s first quarter she raised $109,000. The more than million dollar boost is approximately 52 percent of her total first quarter fundraising from 2007-2016.

Congressman Erik Paulsen, who became famous for his noncommittal stance on Trump, has seen a dip in his first quarter fundraising totals. Though still within average range, Paulsen’s first quarter fundraising growth dropped as a result of 2017 results.

Congressman Jason Lewis, who was a proud backer of Trump during the election, raised more than double his 2016 first quarter total when he was still a candidate. Data shows Lewis to be on par with his predecessor John Kline’s first quarter fundraising totals.

Congressman Tom Emmer also saw a 36 percent increase from 2016 first quarter fundraising totals. Emmer, also a strong backer of Trump in 2016, raised $214,000 in 2017, $77,000 more than his first quarter totals in 2016. The total is comparable to his first quarter totals raised in 2015 and 2014.

The first congressional race, a seat held by gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz, is showing interesting totals. His Republican challenger, Jim Hagedorn, who has campaigned for the seat since 2010, has seen an 800 percent increase in his first quarter totals compared to last year. Hagedorn raised $222,000 during the first quarter, compared to $28,000 this time last year. Hagedorn, who lost to Walz by less than one percent, is expected to be a frontrunner in the race with Walz set to leave the seat to run for governor. Walz still managed to fundraise $109,000 during the first quarter.

So while the fundraising trend nationally for GOP US representatives and senators is heading upwards, in the now somewhat purple Minnesota, the Trump wave is producing a mixed bag of results.

Updated on April 20, 2017, to include data on Sen. Al Franken’s Q1 fundraising, which was not available at the time of publish. 

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.