Employees at Charlotte’s biggest companies are contributing to Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump by a ratio of more than 21-to-1, federal figures show.
The Democratic presidential nominee has drawn $527,847 in campaign contributions from people associated with those companies through June 30. That compares with $24,359 for her GOP rival, according to an Observer analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data.
The analysis includes contributions from employees at the seven Fortune 500 companies based in the Charlotte area, along with Wells Fargo, which maintains its largest employee base here.
The lopsided figures mark a reversal from 2012, when Republican Mitt Romney drew a larger share of contributions from those same companies than did Democrat Barack Obama.
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The latest numbers don’t surprise political experts. They note that Trump, who is expected to hold fundraising events in Charlotte and Mooresville on Thursday and a rally in Charlotte on Thursday night, has been delivering a populist message that’s tailored to tap into anger toward big business.
“That’s probably to the detriment of getting big-business support,” said Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer. “His message is the system is rigged.”
Among Charlotte’s largest companies, nearly all the contributions for Clinton and Trump have come from employees of Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Of the $552,206 total, more than 95 percent has gone to Clinton.
That echoes past election cycles in which Charlotte’s big banks ranked high among U.S. companies for employee contributions to presidential candidates. In the 2012 election, for example, Bank of America ranked second and Wells Fargo sixth, the federal figures show. So far this election, Bank of America ranks fifth, and Wells is again sixth.
Even employees of Nucor, whose former CEO Dan DiMicco is senior trade adviser to Trump, are backing Clinton. Only $25 from Nucor employees has gone to Trump this election cycle, compared with $1,451 to Clinton.
Overall this election, more than half the spending from employees of Charlotte’s big companies has gone to back Republican presidential candidates, including some no longer in the race, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Because they date to June 30, the Center for Responsive Politics figures do not include contributions after Trump’s July acceptance of the nomination. Potential donors who were on the fence about contributing to Trump might have opened their wallets after his nomination.
Earlier this month, the Trump campaign released figures showing a surge in small donations that helped him pull nearly even with Clinton in fundraising for July. Trump brought in $82 million that month, compared with $90 million for Clinton, according to The New York Times.
From tellers to board members
Employees of both of Charlotte’s big banks have contributed far more to Clinton than to Trump: At Wells Fargo, $255,580 for Clinton and $11,239 for Trump. And at Bank of America, $248,801 for Clinton and $11,392 for Trump.
Center for Responsive Politics’ figures for Clinton and Trump are based on employee contributions directly to those candidates’ campaign committees. The numbers also take into account any spending from company political action committees that collect employee contributions. And in the case of Wells Fargo, the figures also include contributions by employees to outside groups such as super PACs.
Some companies, such as Bank of America, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo, say their PACs are not used to support presidential candidates. Duke Energy said its PAC has not given to the Clinton or Trump campaigns.
The numbers for all candidates reflect contributions from the executive suite down to the rank-and-file – bank tellers, Lowe’s store managers, Duke engineers.
Among executives, for example, Duke Energy’s Lloyd Yates ranks among big donors, contributing $2,700 in March to Clinton campaign committee Hillary for America. Yates, president of Duke’s Carolinas region and based in Charlotte, declined to comment.
Charles Bowman, Bank of America’s Charlotte market president, also gave $2,700 earlier this year to Hillary for America. The bank declined to comment.
Employees have made some donations for candidates who have since dropped out.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont received less than $70 from a Bank of America teller in Moncks Corner, S.C., since last year. Sonic Automotive board member David Bruton Smith gave $1,000 last year to Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. And the head of Bank of America’s investment bank, Thomas Montag, gave $100,000 last year to Right to Rise USA, a super PAC that supported Jeb Bush.
Officials with the Trump and Clinton campaigns could not be reached for comment.
Eric Heberlig, political science professor at UNC Charlotte, noted Trump has not done as much fundraising as Clinton.
“His base of support isn’t the business elite. It’s working-class, those who would be giving small donations,” Heberlig said.
Trump’s criticism of free trade policies, which Republicans have long supported, have put him at odds with big-business interests. For example, the candidate has called China a currency manipulator and vowed to withdraw the U.S. from global trade pacts.
Such views have been denounced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has said Trump’s plans would cost millions of U.S. jobs and weaken the economy.
“A number of positions he’s taken haven’t gone over well with the traditional business supporters of the Republican Party,” Heberlig said.
North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Clinton’s financial lead “doesn’t surprise me at all.”
“I think she is in line with Big Business and in bed with Wall Street in a way that doesn’t work for Main Street,” Woodhouse said.
Big companies “are so risk-averse that they don’t want anything to change,” Woodhouse said. “And to be honest, they are so big (that) whatever the rules are, they get bent to their favor. So they don’t want to see somebody like Donald Trump shake up a lot of things.”
Roddey Dowd Jr., CEO of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, is among Trump’s local supporters. On Thursday, Dowd will co-host a 6 p.m. fundraising dinner at uptown’s Westin Hotel.
Dowd said supporting Trump over Clinton is a “no-brainer.”
“Career politicians from both parties have abandoned the middle class and allowed regulatory overreach and unfair trade to stifle our economy and cost us jobs,” Dowd said in a statement.
Clinton leading in N.C.
Clinton has a 2 percentage point lead over Trump in North Carolina, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Just a few weeks ago, Trump rebooted his North Carolina campaign, naming a new state director and communications team as he seeks to compete in the battleground state.
Woodhouse, the state GOP executive director, said the funding gap says “nothing” about Trump’s prospects with voters in the Charlotte area come November.
“He’ll do fine in that,” Woodhouse said. “Some of the suburban counties Trump will do extremely well in.”
It’s still unclear whether he’ll win the money game.
“When you chose to attack the people that you may need money from, and make it very clear you don’t need their money, why should they give you any?” Bitzer, the Catawba College political scientist, said.
“Big business is not going to be in the same alignment with that base of support that he is focused on.”
Employees who work for Charlotte’s biggest companies have given $552,206 since the end of June in donations for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, according to an Observer analysis of Center for Responsive Politics data. The list includes the seven Fortune 500 companies based in the Charlotte area, along with Wells Fargo, which maintains its largest employee base in the city.
Bank of America