EVERETT — If the outcome of the presidential election was determined by campaign dollars, not votes, the race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden would be too close to call in Snohomish County.
Through mid-October, the president had hauled in $967,356.71 for his re-election, compared to $920,813.02 collected by the former vice president’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data analyzed by The Daily Herald. While Trump holds a narrow lead, Biden’s fundraising has gained significant momentum in the months closest to the election, amassing in Snohomish County more than half of his total contributions since August, while Trump has lagged in that span.
In all, Biden’s dough came from 2,353 individuals in the county, while Trump amassed his total from 1,831 locals, according to records posted online.
By occupation, retirees, aerospace workers, mechanics, entrepreneurs and business owners were writing checks for Trump. And business executives, unemployed people, health care workers, tech engineers, teachers and lawyers gave to Biden.
Across the state, Biden raised $17 million, nearly double the statewide total of the president, who raised about $9 million in Washington. Nationwide, Biden has raised $720 million from individual contributions to Trump’s $344 million.
Those figures exclude the millions more that have flowed from Washingtonians’ bank accounts to political action committees, which place TV ads and send mailers on behalf of a candidate, as well as give cash.
Federal law allows people to give up to $5,600 directly to presidential campaigns. But political action committees that advocate for candidates can cash huge checks from donors.
A handful of pro-Trump PACs picked up $435,000 from Snohomish County donors. Committees backing Biden got more money across the state than those supporting the president, but most were from Seattle. In Snohomish County, they netted about $10,000.
However, the Lincoln Project, a committee of current and former Republicans hoping to elect Joe Biden, raised $124,000 in the county.
Within Snohomish County, the most money came from people in Everett, Edmonds and Bothell.
Contributions range from $1 to $50,000.
Most donors are in for a few hundred dollars, or maybe a couple thousand, which they’ve paid in monthly installments through national conduits of ActBlue for Democrats and WinRed for the GOP.
“There’s a lot of people, not the usual suspects but rank-and-file people, who have just come out of the woodwork,” said Doug Roulstone, vice chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Party and manager of the Trump campaign effort in the 44th Legislative District.
Trump has received nearly eight times his total from 2016, while Biden has more than tripled what Democratic torchbearer Hillary Clinton collected from the county for her presidential campaign four years ago.
“I’ve never seen the level of excitement we’ve seen the last few weeks,” said Roulstone, a former candidate for state and federal offices who had given $225 to the Trump campaign and $250 to an independent political action committee backing the president.
Trump’s pool of donors are people trying to get him four more years because of policies which brought a strong economy and low unemployment before the pandemic, said Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the state Republican Party.
“That’s motivating people to invest in a way they have not before,” he said.
It’s the president’s policies of the past four years, and his action in the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, that inspired Democrat Lillian Kaufer, who lives near Snohomish, to shell out more dollars than previous federal election cycles.
She gave $125 directly to Biden. She’s also made small contributions on a regular basis to ActBlue, which steers money to committees backing Democratic challengers with a chance to win U.S. Senate races in Arizona, South Carolina, Iowa and Maine.
“This election, for me, is about the COVID response. It’s has been horrible,” said Kauffer, a paralegal and one-time candidate for state legislative office. “I am giving to Senate candidates because there’s been zero accountability or checks against presidential power. I feel strongly that it’s not just the president. You have to help people get elected across the board.”
In total, nine Snohomish County residents gave the maximum $5,600 directly to the Biden or Trump camps.
For the president, that includes developer Larry Sundquist of Lynnwood.
Sundquist, a major Republican donor for years, and his wife, Diane, also gave $50,000 to Trump Victory, a pro-Trump political action committee.
Ashton Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Plumbing in Monroe, is one of the county’s other largest donors this cycle. He’s given $35,500 to Trump Victory, $7,500 to Make America Great Again — another pro-president super PAC — plus $5,600 directly to the Trump campaign.
Biden’s list of donors includes Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, state teachers union President Larry Delaney and former U.S. Marshal and local Democratic state lawmaker Mark Ericks.
Ericks, who lives in the Snohomish area, gave a total of $125 to Biden in the course of several months, records show.
“I definitely have strong feelings about the direction of this country the last four years, and that it’s got to change,” he said.
While several billion dollars have been channeled into the national campaigns, he said, he hopes the candidates made note of the number of people who wrote small checks. He said he did when he ran for office.
“Those felt important,” he said. “Each one is a real person and a vote.”