While Donald Trump is the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary and leads his GOP rivals in overall fundraising, they’re having more success than him in winning over the CEOs of S&P 500 companies.
Instead, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, also a former South Carolina governor; and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina are tied for first when it comes to getting a number of S&P CEOs to spend their own money.
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They’ve each drawn contributions from four bosses, with Scott leading in terms of the total amount collected. That’s shown in the below chart, which is based on a MarketWatch analysis of the Federal Election Commission’s 2023 data on individual contributions to a candidate’s principal presidential campaign committee, as reported for an October filing deadline.
The lack of S&P CEO giving to Trump could stem from the former president’s looking like too much of a “wild card” to executives, said Robin Kolodny, a Temple University professor of political science with an expertise in campaign finance. Corporate leaders might be worried that a second, nonconsecutive Trump term would end up delivering trade wars again or another government shutdown, she said.
“If you are in a big company that needs some kind of stability, then Trump is not your game,” Kolodny told MarketWatch. She said CEOs also could be wary of the former president’s legal troubles, including an ongoing civil fraud trial in New York with allegations of financial improprieties that cut to the heart of his brand.
Meanwhile, Scott could be attracting donations from financial-sector
CEOs thanks in part to his position as the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, according to the Temple expert. And other 2024 GOP candidates could be drawing contributions because they’re viewed as likely to end up as important officials in a Republican administration even if they’re not their party’s presidential nominee.
Kolodny suggested that more contributions from CEOs could be coming after the primary contests in Iowa and New Hampshire early next year.
“I would wait till after Iowa and New Hampshire to do anything,” she said, adding that it’ll become clearer at that point whether any GOP candidate is catching up to Trump.
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Also: Next Republican debate: When is it, and who will be participating on stage?
What the campaigns and companies are saying
When asked about the lack of S&P CEO giving to Trump, his 2024 campaign pointed to its overall success in fundraising and the support that he’s getting from regular people.
“Team Trump raised over $45.5 million in the third quarter, with $37.5 million cash on hand, completely dwarfing any Republican candidate,” said Trump 2024 spokesman Steven Cheung in an email to MarketWatch. Cheung said the campaign is “powered by the grassroots and everyday Americans,” predicting that Trump “will be” the Republican nominee.
The other 2024 GOP campaigns didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s requests for comment.
When asked about Prologis
CEO Hamid Moghadam’s donation to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s longshot presidential campaign, a spokeswoman for the company noted Moghadam and Burgum were both 1980 graduates of Stanford University’s business school, adding that they “have been friends for 45 years.”
Cboe Global Markets
and Waste Management
declined to comment, while the other 10 companies with donating CEOs didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s requests for comment.
Why $3,300 or $6,600 so often?
Overall, 16 S&P 500 CEOs from 15 companies have given to a Republican presidential candidate’s principal campaign committee this year, with one exec, Copart
co-CEO Jay Adair, giving to two different contenders, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy.
Pioneer Natural Resources
has two chief executives listed in the chart above because Rich Dealy is the company’s CEO-designate, due to take over the top job on Jan. 1 from current CEO Scott Sheffield, and they’ve both made donations to Haley.
Eight of the 16 bosses contributed the maximum amounts allowed, giving either $3,300 or $6,600. Due to FEC limits, an individual can’t donate more than $3,300 to a principal campaign committee, but a donation can total $6,600 if half is from a spouse or if the donor is contributing for both the primary and general elections.
For Cboe Global Markets
Edward Tilly is listed even though he stepped down from the CEO post in September because MarketWatch’s analysis includes anyone who had the top job at their company at some point in 2023. His contribution was made in May, while he was still at Cboe.
CEO giving to Biden
President Joe Biden’s principal campaign committee also hasn’t attracted any donations from chief executive officers of S&P 500 components, but a Biden joint fundraising committee — the Biden Victory Fund — has scored such contributions, while the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee hasn’t.
The S&P CEO donors to Biden’s joint fundraising committee have been Netflix’s
Reed Hastings with $100,000 and Debra Cafaro of Ventas
with $1,000, according to MarketWatch’s analysis of FEC data. Such committees have higher maximum amounts that an individual can donate than principal campaign committees. Hastings is no longer Netflix’s chief executive but served in that role through late January, and MarketWatch’s analysis includes anyone who was an S&P CEO during this year. Netflix and Ventas didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s requests for comment.
Democrats have almost completely closed ranks behind Biden, although author and activist Marianne Williamson and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota have mounted longshot primary challenges to the incumbent. Biden’s 2024 campaign didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.
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