Number Crunch: Presidential hopefuls and local money – who found support?

It’s now less than two weeks before South Carolinians start heading to the polls (three weeks for Democrats) to select their party’s Presidential candidate, and local voters are clearly starting to ramp up their interest in the races. The easiest illustration of this has to be the reaction to the announcement that a certain polarizing candidate would be holding an event in Sumter.

Many of these campaigns, however, have been active in the area for months now, trying to convince people not only to vote for them, but also support their campaigns with financial donations. Whether or not campaigns are gaining votes is often measured in polling data. And in a previous Number Crunch, we looked at the GOP results in Iowa, and what they can possibly lead to in South Carolina. In this Number Crunch, however, we’ll look at the other angle, namely, which candidates are getting funded by local voters to aid their campaigns.

To that end, Sumter Citizen evaluated more nearly 1,700 data points taken from the various campaign disclosure forms (which you can find here). These are itemized donations, listed by zip code, made to each political candidate. In other words, it doesn’t include money raised by Political Action Committees or non-itemized donations, like when someone simply drops a $5 in a fundraising bucket at a political event.

These disclosure forms were due to the Federal Election Committee on Jan. 31. So after a week of pulling the data, compiling the local results for Sumter County (as well as Kershaw, Clarendon and Lee Counties) and kicking the numbers around a bit, here are some of the interesting stories the numbers told. The final local 2015 totals, as well as the statewide numbers for each candidate, are listed at the bottom of this post.

Lindsey Graham’s home-state advantage in fundraising was significant enough to potentially discourage other candidates from fundraising here.

It shouldn’t be surprising that South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham held a distinct advantage in raising campaign funds from local donors for his ultimately failed Presidential bid. What might be surprising is how large the advantage was.

Throughout 2015, Graham raised $37,040 from the combined counties of Sumter, Kershaw, Clarendon and Lee, with nearly $13,000 of that coming from Sumter County alone. That accounted for 43 percent of all the funds raised by any candidate, regardless of party, in 2015. And this was in line with his donation figures statewide, where Graham raised more than $1.45 million. Throughout South Carolina, Graham raised nearly 49 percent of all the funds donated to all Republican campaigns, and nearly 41 percent of the money donated for any candidate, regardless of party.

Unfortunately for Graham’s candidacy, that also amounted to nearly half of the $3.31 million he raised nationwide, highlighting another reason why his bid never really got off the ground.

Hillary Clinton received fewer dollars in Sumter than Bernie Sanders and…Lawrence Lessig?

Don’t know who Lawrence Lessig is? You’re not alone. The 54-year-old Harvard law professor and founder of Creative Commons saw his Democratic bid for the White House short-lived, officially lasting less than two months. Still, during that time, he was able to raise $750 from Sumter County residents.

But how was $750 in campaign contributions able to top the Democratic front-runner? Actually it was easy, because, according to her FEC filings, Clinton didn’t have a single itemized contribution from Sumter County. She was able to raise $5,625 in the area, however. All of that came from Clarendon County, and primarily from former state Sen. John Land.

Bernie Sanders, who raised almost all of his $3,070 in local donations from the Sumter area (about $400 came from Kershaw County) saw a large portion of that money come in during the third quarter of 2015, when he also held a campaign rally in Sumter.

Ben Carson’s financial support in Sumter is stronger than his poll numbers would indicate

Recent polls have shown the neurosurgeon running either fourth or fifth in the upcoming GOP primary, averaging around nine percent support. His local fundraising numbers, however, coupled with a recent Sumter GOP straw poll which saw Carson finish tied for second among local party meeting attendees, indicate the doctor could see a stronger performance in Sumter during the primary.

If this happens, part of this could be that while his campaign, for the most part, needed to introduce him to a national audience, the people of Sumter County were more familiar with the acclaimed surgeon, especially after his speaking to a capacity crowd at Wilson Hall in 2013. That familiarity likely helped his local fundraising, where Carson raised nearly $2,900 from Sumter residents and more than $6,900 in the four-county area evaluated.

That was more than all but three candidates: Graham, Texas senator Ted Cruz, who raised $7,350 in the area, and this surprising second-place finisher in the local fundraising race…

Rick Santorum had strong financial support in Kershaw County.

While the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucus failed to recapture the support he had four years ago, his past performance apparently influenced Kershaw County donors. The former Pennsylvania senator raised $15,500 from the local area, all of it coming from Kershaw, and most of it via maximum $2,700 donations.

And while that allowed Santorum to have the second-most support in the area, it didn’t translate to support outside the four-county region, as he only raised slightly more than $42,000 statewide.

Several candidates in both parties didn’t fundraise in the four-county area at all. Those candidates are either already out of the race, or they’re front-runners.

We’ve already noted that Hillary Clinton didn’t raise any money in Sumter County. Neither did Donald Trump, whose campaign hasn’t done much fundraising at all, as the New York businessman has pledged to use his own wealth to fund his candidacy.

But these are both candidates with strong name recognition. For the others who didn’t raise any money locally, their hopes for the White House have all but faded this election cycle.

In addition to Clinton and Trump, three Democrats (Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee) and five Republicans (Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Scott Walker) failed to raise any money in the area. With the exception of Christie, whose campaign appears dependent upon a strong showing in New Hampshire, all of these candidates have since dropped out of their party’s nomination race.

fundraising chartThe fundraising totals for each candidate, listed by party from largest local fundraiser to smallest, were:


Hillary Clinton – Total: $5,625. (Sumter: $0, Kershaw: $0, Clarendon: $5,625, Lee: $0) Statewide: $469,976. 

Bernie Sanders – Total: $3,070.18. (Sumter: $2,666, Kershaw: $404.18, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $87,436.

Lawrence Lessig – Total: $750. (Sumter: $750, Kershaw: $0, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $4,449.

Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee – Total: $0 Statewide: O’Malley: $17,810, Webb: $2,000, Chafee: $0


Lindsey Graham – Total: $37,040 (Sumter: $12,990, Kershaw: $23,450, Clarendon: $600, Lee: $0) Statewide: $1,450,334.

Rick Santorum – Total: $15,500 (Sumter: $0, Kershaw: $15,500, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $42,119. 

Ted Cruz – Total: $7,350 (Sumter: $3,215, Kershaw: $3,635, Clarendon: $500, Lee: $0) Statewide: $328,775.

Ben Carson – Total: $6,936.48 (Sumter: $2,895.48, Kershaw: $3791, Clarendon: $250, Lee: $0) Statewide: $399,566.

Marco Rubio – Total: $4,669 (Sumter: $1,574, Kershaw: $360, Clarendon: $35, Lee: $2,700) Statewide: $336,845.

Jeb Bush – Total: $2,951 (Sumter: $451, Kershaw: $2,500, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $184,459. 

Carly Fiorina – Total: $825 (Sumter: $0, Kershaw: $300, Clarendon: $525, Lee: $0) Statewide: $65,600.

Rand Paul – Total: $568.92 (Sumter: $403.60, Kershaw: $165.32, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $61,374.

John Kasich – Total: $275 (Sumter: $275, Kershaw: $0, Clarendon: $0, Lee: $0) Statewide: $25,676

Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Donald Trump and Scott Walker – Total: $0   Statewide: Trump: $30,615, Walker: $22,327, Huckabee: $16,293, Christie: $7,450, Jindal: $2,061, Perry: $775

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