Skip to content Skip to footer

Who Are Women Donors Putting Their Money Behind? Not Just the Democratic Women.

The five Democratic women in the 2020 presidential race raised more money from women donors than 11 Democratic men.

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand speaks during a Commerce Committee hearing on paid family leave, July 11, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She is one of the top recipients of 2020 campaign donations from women so far.

The five Democratic women in the 2020 presidential race raised more money from women donors than the 11 Democratic men did in the first quarter of 2019 — $7.4 million to $7.35 million.

That’s based on a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of itemized contributions to candidates who filed in the first quarter and raised more than $100,000. Itemized contributions are generally contributions over $200, which gives us gender data only for large donations. Hence, we isolated contributions of over $200 for this analysis.

Electability, albeit a quality given generously to men running for office and earned by women, has been a pillar for primary voters and donors in presidential elections. Who that leads donors to is still to be determined, but where women are putting their money provides insight.

Following a record-breaking midterm for both women candidates and donors, the money trail offers a glimpse of how women are responding to having multiple women in the top tier of a presidential race — a first in such campaigns.

Of all the itemized donations from the first quarter, 253 women gave to multiple Democratic women running in the primary. That represents just over 3 percent of the women donor base.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the only 2020 candidate to raise at least 50 percent of her money from women after the first quarter of fundraising, raised $1.27 million with 961 women donors.

According to Gillibrand’s finance director, Stefanie Conahan, the top women donor networks are encouraged to give to multiple women running in the presidential primary: “‘If you want a woman to be on the ticket, give to all of them.’ That’s what [Gillibrand] always says.”

Female-centric donor circles, whose goal is to elevate women in politics, are encouraging women to spread their support to women early in the primaries. Fundraisers hosted by groups such as Electing Women Alliance and Electing Women PAC, many of which are women-only events, garner support for the top women in the presidential primary field to “promote women” and “support women” getting on the 2020 ticket, according to Politico.

Gillibrand, who founded women donor circles in cities around the country and bolstered fundraising success for women donors, shares 13 percent of her donors with other Democratic women in the primary — the majority of whom gave to Sen. Kamala Harris in addition to Gillibrand.

Notably, Harris leads the 2020 candidates with the largest sum of money coming from women. Just under 50 percent — $3.6 million — of her itemized contributions come from women. Women donors who gave to multiple women gave more frequently to Harris over the other primary candidates.

At third, Republican President Donald Trump raised 45 percent of his first quarter funds from women at $1.47 million and, unsurprisingly, shares no women donors. Trump won in 2016 despite collecting less than 29 percent of his contributions from women — he defeated Hillary Clinton, who took in 52 percent of her itemized contributions from women. However, 2016 was not the banner year for women donors, or candidates, that 2018 was and 2020 may be.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren all fundraised sizeable portions of their first quarter funds from women at 45 percent, 45 percent, and 41 percent respectively.

Near bottom of the list, Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised only a third of their contributions from women donors in the first quarter — both at 33 percent. Sanders and Buttigieg are two of the candidates who have the highest amount of money coming from small donors — Sanders at 74 percent and Buttigieg at 64 percent. Keeping in mind that generally only donations above $200 are itemized, thus providing gender data, the gender landscape of small donations are absent.

Sanders, whose contributions from women have fallen since his 2016 run, does not share many women donors with other Democratic candidates within his itemized contributions.

Less than 2 percent of Sanders’ women donors also gave to the Democratic women in the presidential candidate field. Of that small group of shared women donors, the majority gave money to both Sanders and Warren — 65 percent. On the other hand, 15 percent of Buttigieg’s women donors gave to Democratic women, mostly Harris and Klobuchar.

Women are not a homogenous voting block, and they’re certainly not a homogenous donating block either. “They’re going to show up on a bunch of these financial reports — some for female candidates, some for male candidates,” one Democratic consultant told Politico.

It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.

We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?

We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!