AUGUSTA — Maine residents have donated $1.1 million to the nine remaining presidential candidates, with half of that money flowing to two contenders: President Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders.

With Maine’s presidential primary elections just eight days away, the state is seeing heightened campaign activity among the eight Democrats still in the running for their party’s nomination.

Those campaigns are experiencing an uptick in donations from Mainers as they prepare to join voters in 13 other states participating in the  March 3 “Super Tuesday” primaries. But campaign contribution data filed with the Federal Election Commission show that by Jan. 31, Sanders had received the most donations from Maine at $321,017, followed by Trump with $275,294.

Sanders was closely trailing Trump in donations from Maine at the end of 2019 but surged past the president thanks to nearly $70,000 in donations during January compared to Trump’s $11,600, according to an analysis of the FEC reports.

Those filings only include “itemized” donations of $200 or more, or smaller amounts from individuals whose aggregated donations exceed the $200 reporting threshold. Campaigns are also aggressively soliciting small-dollar donations but are not required to publicly disclose the identity or residency of such contributors.

After Trump and Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren reported $197,899 in donations from Mainers while Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was not far behind with $180,840. The pair were virtually tied in fundraising from Maine at year’s end before Warren pulled ahead last month.


Former Vice President Joe Biden had the fourth-largest amount of itemized contributions from Maine at $70,133.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang had received $55,112 in donations as of Dec. 31, although the Democrat ended his campaign this month after disappointing finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has surged in the polls in recent weeks, reported $38,209 in donations from Maine residents, followed by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with $23,718.

A recent Colby College poll of roughly 350 Democrats in Maine showed Sanders leading the pack of party rivals with 25 percent support. Sanders was followed by: Buttigieg (16 percent), former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (14 percent), Biden (12 percent), Warren (9 percent), Kobuchar (4 percent),  Gabbard (3 percent) and billionaire activist Tom Steyer (2 percent).

Anthony Corrado, a Colby College professor who studies campaign finance issues, said it isn’t surprising to see Trump and Sanders – a Vermont senator – leading the donor pack in Maine given their well-honed online fundraising campaigns and name recognition.

“Generally, the view is that Bernie will once again run strongly in the state,” Corrado said, referring to Sanders’ overwhelming victory over Hillary Clinton during Maine’s 2016 Democratic caucuses.

Warren and Buttigieg, meanwhile, probably have better name recognition in Maine because they both spent so much time campaigning in neighboring New Hampshire, which shares a media market with southern and western Maine.


But Corrado cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from fundraising at what is still a relatively early point in the campaign cycle.

“Generally, you can’t read too much into it because it is largely looking at those voters who tend to be the most politically active individuals in the state,” Corrado said. “It shows the individual candidates who are well-known in the state have been able to raise the most money.”

It’s not necessarily surprising that Trump and Sanders lead in Maine given that the pair had raised more money nationally – $218 million and $121 million, respectively, as of Jan. 31 – than any of the other traditionally financed candidates.

Of course, campaign contributions are only one measure of a candidate’s potential popularity, especially in 2020.

As a case in point, Bloomberg has likely spent the most money in Maine but hasn’t raised a dime here (or anywhere) because the billionaire is self-financing his presidential bid. As of Jan. 31, Bloomberg had spent $464 million of his own fortune on his campaign nationwide.

Bloomberg has been advertising in Maine for months — and recently made campaign stops in Portland and Scarborough — as part of his strategy to build name recognition in the 14 states participating in the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3. He joins Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar in battling for support in the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party while Sanders and Warren brandish their progressive credentials.


Buttigieg has surged in the national polls in recent months while Biden has struggled, which may also be showing up in donations from Maine. While the former vice president raised roughly $41,000 from Maine donors from August through December, Buttigieg received more than three times that amount, or $132,000, during the same time period.

Buttigieg, a military veteran who would be the nation’s first openly gay president, also made a Maine campaign stop in August. Biden, by comparison, is more reliant on traditional fundraising but hasn’t held any events in Maine this election season.

Republican leaders in Maine are expressing confidence that Trump will at least match, if not surpass, his 2016 performance, when he picked up one Electoral College vote by winning the 2nd Congressional District. Clinton received the other three electors by winning the 1st District and the statewide vote.

“We see an incredible groundswell of support for President Trump, so it’s not surprising that Mainers are donating to his re-election campaign,” Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, said in a statement. “It’s the strongest, most unified effort I have ever seen in all the elections I have worked. The Democrats only have far-left liberals with extreme and destructive positions remaining, to challenge President Trump, who can now run on a record of unprecedented accomplishment.”

Maine Democrats, meanwhile, said their base as well as other voters are fired up headed into Super Tuesday and the November election.

“Mainers are fired up to make Donald Trump a one-term president, it’s that simple,” Kathleen Marra, chairwoman of the Maine Democratic Party, said in a statement. “We’re seeing unprecedented levels of energy and enthusiasm to defeat him, and we’re expecting high turnout on March 3. Mainers understand that health care, a healthy environment, and the ability to work one job for a living wage are on the ballot, which is why we’re ready to rally behind our eventual nominee for president to put us in the strongest possible position to beat Donald Trump this November.”

This story was updated at 11:21 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, to include the most recent campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission. As a result, the fundraising totals for several candidates (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar) were adjusted slightly due to differences between the “raw” and “processed” data files.

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