Dave Mistich Published

Which Presidential Candidate is Raising the Most Money in West Virginia and Where?

Presidential Primary Campaign Financing

As West Virginia moves toward the May 10 primary, thousands of West Virginians are opening up their wallets and shelling out some major cash for the presidential hopefuls.

But, in terms of dollars, which candidate is winning West Virginia? We look to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission for the answer.

The Strongholds for Each Candidate 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has seen the highest total number of donations at $170,663. Clinton donations are largely concentrated in the Charleston area and in the Eastern Panhandle. But, she has statewide appeal with donations also coming in from the Morgantown area, the southern coalfields, the Mid-Ohio Valley and the Northern Panhandle. 

While Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has seen small donations pouring in from across the state, his financial support is centered in the Morgantown and Wheeling areas. A fundraising event in early April benefited the senator, who did make an appearance. Attended by an estimated 600 people, the event was reportedly sponsored by Robert Murray of Murray Energy. 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ donations are spread throughout virtually every part of the state and included a high number of small dollar gifts. Many of his 3,489 donations are for $27, a number he’s touted as the average donation he’s received nationally. His biggest draw is in the Morgantown area, Charleston, the Eastern Panhandle and Huntington.

Ohio Governor John Kasich’s fundraising support not surprisingly is concentrated in parts of West Virginia that touch his home state. West Virginians in Weirton, Mineral Wells and Huntington have pledged their dollars to the governor with pockets of donors in Baker, Summersville and Philippi.

Often referred to as the candidate most likely to take West Virginia in the primary, billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s few donations thus far–37 from 27 contributors–is mostly concentrated in the state’s southern coalfields. 

Hover your mouse over an area to see how much money each candidate raised in each zip code. For a deeper look at the presidential candidates’ fundraising in the state, search the map by city or zip code. You can also filter data by candidate by using the drop-down menu on the top right of the dashboard. 

Does Any of This Matter?

A candidate’s ability to fundraise often says a lot about how people in a state view them, but does that really equate to votes? Kyle Kondik with the University of Virginia Center for Politics says that may not necessarily be the case this election season. 

“Trump has broken a lot of rules this primary race, one of which is that candidate fundraising is typically important for candidates to win,” said Kondik.

If you look at FEC filings, its clear Trump has raised significantly less than his Republican rival, $12 million compared to Cruz’s $78 million, but Kondik points to Trump’s use of “free media,” i.e. television appearances, and his already existent name recognition as reasons that Trump has been able to win while running a campaign “on the cheap.”

“He has been able to win many state and many delegates despite not spending much on television [ads],” Kondik said. “It’s a strategy that other candidates probably would have a hard time replicating.”

As for the Sanders’ camp being able to raise from such a wide swath of West Virginia, Kondik says it points back to the candidate’s reliance on small-donor funding. 

“I don’t think the sources of money have much to do with where a candidate does well or does not do well,” he added.