Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump is not growing his base of support — he’s shrinking it. The Daily Beast has a new report outlining more than a dozen (15, to be exact) major donors to Trump’s 2016 inauguration who have since decided to financially support some of the Democrats vying for the party’s nomination to try and unseat Trump in November. The list includes high-profile names like Jennifer Pritzker, identified as the world’s “only known trans billionaire” and a longtime GOP donor, who gave a quarter of a million dollars to Trump’s cash-bloated inauguration — and has now chipped in to South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.
Her particular break with the party was at least partly over Trump’s personal antagonism of transgender people. Trump made up an issue with their presence in the military to the point of ordering that they be banned from openly serving. He claimed some kind of inappropriate financial burden — but as many have pointed out, the military actually spends more on Viagra than they’re estimated to possibly spend on transgender people’s gender-specific medical care.
In January 2019, Pritzker — who herself actually served in the military as a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army — wrote in The Washington Post:
‘I’ve grown frustrated as I watch this Republican administration push to ban transgender military service. Anti-transgender platforms are causing me to evaluate my party support. I have hoped the Republican Party would reform from within and end its assault on the LGBTQ community. Yet, the party continues to champion policies that marginalize me out of existence, define me as an eccentric character and persecute me for using the public restrooms that correspond to my gender identity.’
The GOP has not stopped championing these positions, and, a few months after her op-ed against the party’s direction, she donated $1,000 to Buttigieg’s campaign.
Altogether, the 15 donors who the Daily Beast discovered donated to the Trump inauguration and have since supported Democrats gave more than $700,000 to those 2016 festivities, but now, they’ve financially backed a large swath of candidates from the packed Democratic presidential primary field. For example, like Pritzker, the Colorado-based media company Liberty Media’s chief Greg Maffei gave a quarter of a million dollars to the Trump inauguration committee — and in the 2020 cycle, he’s already donated to two different Democratic presidential campaigns. His donations have included a whopping $100,000 to a super PAC supporting the now concluded presidential campaign of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.
Other large sum Trump inauguration donors who’ve abandoned the GOP’s presidential candidate, at least for now, include Virginia electrical contractor William Dean, California land developer Chrysa Tsakopoulos Demos, Minnesota Vikings co-owner Leonard Wilf, and others. What does it say about the health of a campaign when major donors flee? Nothing good, obviously.
Most polls measuring hypothetical general election match-ups show Trump losing to leading Democratic presidential candidates, even including former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s been a frequent target of Trump’s ire. His attempt to bribe Ukraine into investigating his opponents including Biden has not given him any kind of major advantage.