Department of Defense employees have given a greater percentage of their donations to Democrats so far this election cycle than they did under any Republican administration since at least George H.W. Bush’s presidency.
CRP’s political donation data covers each year beginning in 1989 — the first year of the elder Bush’s presidency — and comes from FEC filings, which include a donor’s self-identified occupation and employer.
From January through September, DoD employees donated about $127,000 to political candidates. About 65 percent of the contributions, or roughly $83,000, went to Democrats. Republicans received about $43,000, or 34 percent. The remaining went to third-party candidates.
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From 1989 to 2008, DoD employees gave 65 percent of their donations to GOP candidates in cycles when a Republican was in the White House. During the first three quarters of the 2018 cycle, that number is virtually flipped in the Democrats’ favor.
So far this cycle, military service members have contributed around $425,000 to candidates, PACs and outside spending groups. From 1999 through 2016, military personnel donated more to Democrats only once — in 2016 — and are doing so again early in this cycle.
In 2016, about 56 percent of military members’ donations supported Democratic candidates. That number has increased to 60 percent this cycle, with Democrats benefitting from $253,000 in contributions to $161,000 for Republicans.
Democratic candidates also have received more combined direct contributions than Republican candidates from those currently in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines (about $162,000 and $110,000 to each party, respectively) this cycle.
Army members’ donations had the greatest partisan difference, with Democratic candidates receiving about $61,000 in direct contributions versus $40,000 to Republicans. Air Force donations are the least partisan, with about $32,000 supporting Democrats and $30,000 for Republicans.
Retired Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine service members have contributed more to Republican candidates (about $17,000) than Democrats (about $14,000) so far.
Retired Marine Corps members’ donations had the greatest partisan difference, with Republicans receiving roughly $5,000 more than Democrats.
Four of the top five candidate recipients of donations from military members this cycle are running for House seats.
Republican Steve Ferrara of Arizona, a former Navy medical officer, was the top recipient with about $24,000 in contributions. Amy McGrath, a Kentucky Democrat and former Marine Corps pilot, received $15,000 followed by President Donald Trump ($13,000). Republican Jarrin Jackson of Oklahoma received $12,000, and Democrat Max Rose of New York received $9,000. Trump was the only non-veteran among the top five recipients.