WASHINGTON – So much for the notion that Hillary Clinton is not generating enthusiasm in Minnesota.
The state’s residents donated more than twice the cash to her than to all the other presidential hopefuls combined — including other Democrats, from April through June.
All told, Minnesotans gave more than $780,000 to all presidential candidates in the second quarter, according to a Star Tribune analysis of data provided by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan advocate for open government.
Of that amount, the Democratic former secretary of state and first lady scooped up 71 percent, or a whopping $559,700.
Republican hopeful Ben Carson and Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, came in tied for a distant second, each receiving a little more than $49,000. Sanders has visited the state a couple times, drawing strong crowds, while Carson has concentrated much of his effort in neighboring Iowa, with frequent campaign stops.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who formally entered the field one month ago, collected less than $47,000 here, while Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, brought in $21,000. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky raised just over $18,000 in the state.
The Federal Election Commission reports for the second quarter show individual contributions to the candidates’ formal campaign committees. They do not include Minnesota contributions to the candidates’ many political action committees. Individuals may give campaign committees up to $5,200 total — $2,600 each for the primary and general elections.
Next year is a quieter than average one in Minnesota: There are no gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races to help or hurt those on the presidential ticket.
That means that all eyes are on the presidential race.
Organizing and volunteer recruitment is already taking place — even on small levels.
Clinton launched the initial “Ready for Hillary” effort in Minnesota in June 2014. DFL leaders on Thursday confirmed that volunteers working for Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are in the state. On the Republican side, small organizations exist for 10 of the candidates, including Bush, Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Minnesota’s caucuses will be held on March 1, 2016, known as Super Tuesday because eight other states will hold their caucuses or primaries that day.
Party leaders on both sides insist this will help Minnesota because hopefuls coming out of the four early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — will be looking to seal more wins quickly to keep momentum going and fundraising dollars flowing.
Minnesota has consistently supported Democrats for president since 1976, making it among the least swingy states in the union, particularly outside the south.
Clinton’s Minnesota network has more than 500 volunteers, campaign officials said. Earlier this year, her campaign held launch parties in each of the state’s eight congressional districts and five organizational meetings. Clinton came to Minnesota in June for a private fundraiser.
But that doesn’t mean Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin wants anyone calling Clinton a front-runner in his state.
“I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to just look at money and somehow suggest Clinton has a lead in Minnesota just because she’s raised more money,” said Martin, who is himself backing Clinton. “If you want an objective look at this, you have to look at the grass roots and the field organizing.”
Martin cautions that contributions are only one way to gauge enthusiasm.
“Having small dollar contributions and having more donors in the mix is important in the long run,” he said. “People who are willing to invest even just $5, $10 or $25 are people who are also willing to invest time and energy into the campaign.”
Records show that less than one-fifth of the $47.5 million Clinton has raised nationally came from donations of $200 or less.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey said Thursday that Minnesota’s long history of Democratic excitement in presidential campaigns will not deter his organizers from mounting an all-hands-on-deck effort statewide.
Because the delegates coming out of the caucuses will be proportionally binding, there will be more interest among Republican candidates for Minnesota love, he said. There will be no winner-take-all in Minnesota’s GOP caucuses. If 20 percent of delegates support Bush and another 20 percent support Walker and another 20 percent support Carson, the delegates will be apportioned accordingly. In such a diffuse contest on the Republican side, the candidates will be looking for every last delegate they can find.
“I think Minnesota is arguably in a position to be far more relevant than it ever has been in the Republican presidential sweepstakes,” Downey said.
Most of the presidential hopefuls announced their presidential bids last quarter — Clinton, O’Malley, Bush, Rubio, Paul and Donald Trump among them — which spanned April 1 to June 30. This means these candidates didn’t have a full 12 weeks to collect individual campaign contributions. Walker does not show up in the quarter that just ended because he announced this week. The first look at his campaign fundraising won’t be available until mid-fall.
Downey declined to tip the scale on which Republican may appeal most to the state’s GOP voters.
“I think Republicans are excited that we are going to have a pretty dynamic, more youthful, more diverse field certainly than the Democrats are,” he said. “The contrast between future-looking, youthful, dynamic, diverse candidates on the Republican side painted against these far left-wing, socialist, extremist, old-school Democrats is really great for Republicans.”