Biden Support More than Doubled in Pennsylvania in Q1 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden shocked the world with his Super Tuesday revival, and he is now on the right path to the Democratic nomination against President Donald Trump in November.
Thanks to the wide support he received from Black voters and the consolidation among Democratic moderates, Mr. Biden seized primary victories across the nation, clinching wins in key states such as Michigan, Florida, and Arizona. Now, the question is no longer Bernie vs. Biden, or progressive vs. moderate, but more so if Mr. Biden could unite the Democratic party and beat President Trump. Pennsylvania, one of the key states that postponed the primary due to COVID-19, will soon have its rescheduled primary on June 2nd. Using the FEC individual contribution data, we hope to get a better sense of how much support Mr. Biden could rally in the Keystone State. Our study for Q4 2019 for key cities such as Des Moines and Las Vegas shows that a city’s contributions might align with the outcome of the caucuses and primaries, and we believe that it would also shed light on the general election.
Below are our key findings in the State of Pennsylvania for Q1 2020:
- From Jan 2019 to March 2020, 8,895 unique donors have contributed to President Trump‘s campaign, while 5,278 unique donors have chosen to support Mr. Biden‘s campaign through donations.
- The number of unique donors contributing to Biden’s campaign more than doubled in Q1 2020. Specifically, his campaign gained 1,485 new donors in March, which translates to a 39% growth from February.
- Meanwhile, President Trump’s campaign experienced a slowdown. In Q1 2020, the aggregated number of unique donors contributed to President Trump’s campaign increased only 25%.
- Of all the zip codes included in this study, 47.9% are Democratic zip codes, 37.3% are Republican zip codes, and 14.8% are purple zip codes, which means that none of the parties holds more than 55% of the unique donor count. [Map – Pennsylvania]
- Senator Bernie Sanders, who dropped out of the race in early April, was ahead of Mr. Biden in major cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Allentown. The same trend holds true in rural areas. The real question, therefore, is whether Mr. Biden can really win over these Bernie voters and grow his base in the Keystone State for the General election.
Fundraising by Zip Code – Pennsylvania
The interactive map below highlights the state of Pennsylvania, its top five cities by population, and zip codes. More detailed, the map shows where each zip code stands, politically, and which presidential candidate is leading in each zip code. You can click on the zip code polygons or select from the drop-down menu to learn more. For a more detailed analysis of how candidates are doing in the same zip code, view the corresponding interactive line graph above the map.
Blue zip codes are zip codes where the aggregated number of unique donors of all Democratic candidates (including past candidates) is higher than the number of unique donors received by Republican candidates (including Trump, Sanford, Walsh, and Weld), and red zip codes are areas where the Republican candidates attracted more unique donors than all Democratic candidates combined.
Pennsylvania as a whole encompasses over 1,900 zip codes. We took out the zip codes with no fundraising activities and wound up with 1,269 zip codes. Of the 1,269 zip codes included in the study, 29.7% of them are blue zip codes, 23.3% are red zip codes, and 47.0% are purple zip codes, which means that none of the parties holds more than 55% of the unique donor count. Urban zip codes tend to have more democratic donors, whereas the Republican Party is more popular among the rural zip codes.
We also broke down the zip codes by the top five cities in Pennsylvania to further analyze voter preferences. These analyses further highlight Biden’s challenge to win over Bernie supporters. Click on one of the cities from the menu below to learn more.
As shown in the line chart above the map, Biden leads in Philadelphia with a total of 1,281 unique donors as of Q1 2020, more than doubled what Trump had drawn, 535, since January 2019. Note that, however, Biden was not really Philly Democrats’ first option. Sanders, in fact, attracted around 900 more unique donors in Philadelphia than Biden before quitting the race.
Among the 68 zip codes in Philadelphia, 92.6% of them are democratic zip codes, including zip code 19103, 19087, and 19106. Zip code 19137 and 19154 are the only two Republican zip codes. In zip code 19154, specifically, Trump leads Biden by 15 unique donors. It is worth noting that just because the Democratic Party leads in those 63 zip codes, it doesn’t mean that Biden has more unique donors in all of those zip codes. Sanders, in fact, drew more unique donors than Biden in 48 of the zip codes.
Biden Thrives in these Zip Codes
- Zip Code 19103: 177 unique donors, +63.9% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19106: 90 unique donors, +91.5% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19096: 72 unique donors, +125% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19130: 58 unique donors, +103.3% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19147: 57 unique donors, +74.2% Q/Q
Trump Leads in these Zip Codes
- Zip Code 19020: 33 unique donors, +26.9% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19006: 26 unique donors, +62.5% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19038: 21 unique donors, +23.5% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19114: 21 unique donors, +31.3% Q/Q
- Zip Code 19115: 21 unique donors, +23.5% Q/Q
As we can see from the colors of the polygons, Pittsburgh is a deep-blue city, with the Democratic Party leading in 94.9% of its zip codes and no republican zip codes. While Biden was not Pittsburghers’ first choice, the number of unique donors contributing to his campaign has been consistently growing since October 2019. With a significant quarter-over-quarter change of 84.7%, Biden now is ahead of Trump in Pittsburgh by a narrow margin of 36 unique donors.
Biden Thrives in these Zip Codes
- Zip Code 15217: 75 unique donors, +78.6% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15232: 31 unique donors, +63.2% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15213: 30 unique donors, +87.5% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15238: 27 unique donors, +58.8% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15206: 26 unique donors, +44.4% Q/Q
Trump Leads in these Zip Codes
- Zip Code 15237: 40 unique donors, +25.0% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15238: 32 unique donors, +45.4% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15236: 24 unique donors, +14.3% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15227: 17 unique donors, +30.8% Q/Q
- Zip Code 15136: 17 unique donors, +41.7% Q/Q
While all of the zip codes in Allentown are either blue (+70% democratic donors) or light blue (+55%-70% democratic donors), President Trump, as of Q1 2020, is ahead of Mr. Biden in all eight zip codes. Due to the fact that the Democratic Party had several candidates in the primary until last month, the support was widely spread among the candidates. However, in the past quarter the Biden campaign had shown great momentum – the former Vice President saw a 135% surge in the total number of unique donors from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020, compared to Trump’s 24.7%.
Similar to what we’ve seen in Pittsburgh, people in Allentown favored Mr. Sanders over Mr. Biden and given the differences between progressives and moderates, Mr. Biden will have to appeal to these voters and unite them in order to beat Mr. Trump.
The campaign donations data was retrieved from the FEC covering all individual contributions dated between Jan 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. The city and zip code shapefiles were retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau. In terms of unique donors, we deduped by names, zip codes, and committee names. We adopted 5-digit zip codes for this report as not all candidates collect 9-digit zip codes. People who have changed their names or moved in between donations could artificially inflate these numbers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Our Election Studies
1. Why would Trump be leading in a Blue Zip Code?
This is related to the nature of the primary. As we all know, there were as many as 31 Democratic candidates competing for the nomination, and so the support was divided among them. Meanwhile, while the Republican Party has 3 candidates running, all the support is gravitating towards Trump, and therefore he alone could receive support from more unique donors than any single Democratic candidate. Now that Joe Biden is the likely nominee, we should start seeing some changes.
2. Why should we care about unique donors?
While the dollar amount raised is important for candidates, we believe that it is more crucial to understand how many unique donors each candidate has attracted, as each unique donor potentially means one vote, and by measuring donor counts, it gives us a better idea of how many people support each candidate.
3. How is the party majority calculated?
The party majority is calculated using the aggregated unique donor count of a party and the aggregated unique donor count from Jan 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. For instance, if Democratic candidates attracted a total of 200 unique donors, and the total number of unique donors within a city is 500, the Democratic share would be 40%. In terms of the color shades, purple areas are whether neither the Democratic candidates combined nor Trump has more than 55% of the donors. Light blue and light red represent zip codes where the party has 55% to 70% of the donors, and blue or red represents a majority of 70% and more.