President Trump remains widely unpopular in California, but his campaign support in the state runs broad and deep.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden tops Trump in total fundraising — $105.5 million to $61.1 million — but the president is only slightly behind in total donors, and he outraises Biden in nearly 1,000 of the state’s 1,600 ZIP Codes, according to a Times analysis of donation data.
Trump’s funds flowed from every region in the state: Republican enclaves in Orange and San Diego counties, but also in liberal pockets such as Malibu and Marin County, according to the analysis.
“When it comes to raising money, California is still king,” said Brent Lowder, a veteran GOP fundraiser who is advising the pro-Trump Great America PAC.
The Times analysis shows the president’s 366,000 donors give about $100 less, on average, than those who gave to Biden. The top contributors from each of the ZIP Codes can be viewed on the interactive map below.
Trump’s biggest donors range from Silicon Valley private equity chiefs and Beverly Hills real estate developers to Central Valley agricultural barons and immigrant businessmen. Wealthy widows and heirs are also huge contributors, according to the analysis.
Trump's megadonors from California
About one-third of the president's donations from California came from the wealthiest donors writing big checks. At least 61 donors gave six-figure sums to the president's reelection effort this election cycle. Here are the biggest contributors:
California is 'king' for Democrats, too
California remains the go-to state for Democrats.
Biden and his allies have raised $105.5 million here, making the state the top source of his election cash. That’s not surprising given that the state was routinely the site of lush Democratic fundraisers at celebrities’ mansions in Bel Air and tech impresarios’ spreads in Silicon Valley — at least until the coronavirus struck.
Biden has caught up quickly. He previously could raise a maximum of $5,600 per donor from his campaign launch in April 2019. But once he secured the nomination and formed a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee in May, accepting six-figure checks became possible.
Trump, however, has been able to accept large checks in tandem with the Republican party since he became the Republican nominee in 2016, and those funds have continued during the current election cycle, which began in 2019. They make up the majority of the funds from California collected by or on behalf of Trump during this cycle.
Biden’s financial edge over the president is certain to grow because of fundraising rules that, until recently, gave Trump as an incumbent the ability to raise money longer and in larger amounts than the Democratic nominee.
Biden and his campaign have in recent weeks held virtual fundraisers with Cher, Jennifer Garner and Cyndi Lauper.
Trump holds his own — geographically
Trump’s donor support is a mix of old and new faces. Some wealthy donors from previous campaigns have fallen off the list. Among them is Doug Manchester, a San Diego commercial real estate developer, who — along with his wife — donated about $1 million to Trump-allied committees in past election cycles.
Billionaire Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who previously spent $1.25 million helping the president get elected, also isn’t among the president’s donors this time.
The 52-year-old was the first openly gay person to speak about his sexual orientation at a GOP convention. But he has reportedly grown frustrated by the president’s handling of the coronavirus and lost faith in his reelection prospects.
Still, the president outraised Biden — who didn’t formally secure his party’s nomination until June — in vast swaths of the state.
Indian Wells resident Nachhattar Chandi, the founder of Chandi Group USA, donated $275,000 to Trump’s reelection.
“If he wins, we’re going to be on the road to recovery back again,” said Chandi, who said he is close to 50. “He’s God’s gift to our country.”
Chandi, an immigrant from India who turned a job at a gas station into a sprawling business empire in the Coachella Valley, said Trump’s work reminds him of the toil and sacrifices he made when he worked 20 hours a day and slept in the back of the station.
“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of dreaming. I built my empire out of that, and that only can happen in this great country,” Chandi said.
Kathy Tavoularis, an Orange County-based GOP fundraiser, said California is home to many entrepreneurs such as Chandi. With statewide offices effectively off the table, they concentrate their efforts on other races where their dollars could have an impact.
“There’s plenty of money to go around,” Tavoularis said. “As it turned into a blue state, there are so many entrepreneurs and a lot of business owners who feel that the state government is not listening to their concerns, so they’re more than happy to help in federal races.”
ZIP Codes where Trump raised the most: 974
ZIP Codes where Biden raised the most: 600
For Biden, the biggest donations have come from longtime Democratic backers. In Los Angeles County they include filmmaker Steven Spielberg ($1 million), media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg ($720,600), "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane ($700,000) and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz ($620,600).
Biden’s most generous donor is George Marcus, the billionaire real estate broker from San Francisco, who has contributed $4 million to the former vice president and his allies. Biden's top ZIP code is 94304 in Palo Alto, where he raised $4.6 million.
A split in the largest metro areas
The donor picture in the state’s deepest wells of financial support — Los Angeles and the Bay Area — ranges from the predictable to the surprising.
Biden draws strong support in the wealthy coastal areas of Los Angeles, but Trump retains pockets of strong support in the San Fernando Valley and large swaths of immigrant-dominated communities in L.A. County, like South Gate, where megadonors can have a disproportionate impact.
Mark Dickson, whose aluminum treating services company is based in South Gate, gave Trump $250,000 this cycle. His wife, Janice, also donated $250,000, though campaign records list her home as Long Beach.
Trump outraised Biden in Malibu through July 31 and also did well in Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale and the South Bay.
Orange County, home to many of the state’s wealthiest conservative donors, also largely favored Trump, except for the wealthy enclave of Corona Del Mar and much of Irvine.
In the deep blue Bay Area, Trump had strong showings in the Marin County suburb of Novato and in the heart of Palo Alto in Silicon Valley.
Los Angeles area ZIP Codes where Trump and Biden raised the most
Bay Area ZIP Codes where Trump and Biden raised the most
Who raised most in ZIP?
How much did Trump get from your ZIP?
This table lists how much residents from each of the ZIP Codes gave to Trump — and also the top donor to the president for each location. Use the search box to filter the list to a specific place. Donation totals for some top contributors might be lower because multiple addresses were listed in campaign records.