Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger received donations from thousands of grassroots supporters who helped fund Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, revealing how Democrats are willing to cross party lines to back Republican lawmakers that have broken with Donald Trump over the January 6 riots.
Last year, more than a third of Kinzinger’s grassroots donors and roughly a fifth of Cheney’s were people who gave to Biden in 2020, according to a Financial Times analysis of data from WinRed and ActBlue, the main platforms for small-dollar donors.
Kinzinger, a congressman from Illinois and Cheney of Wyoming are two of six House Republicans who have attracted significant levels of support from Biden donors last year, all of whom voted to impeach Trump for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
As a percentage of his overall donor base, Kinzinger drew more support from Biden 2020 backers than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, although the leftwing Democratic congresswoman from New York had far more individual contributions in total.
Cheney and Kinzinger are the two lone Republicans who sit on the congressional committee probing the January 6 attack, which left at least five people dead and interrupted the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Just 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump last year over his role in the day’s events. The former president was later exonerated after a Senate trial in which just seven Republicans voted to convict him of inciting an insurrection.
Animosity among Trump supporters for Cheney and Kinzinger has grown as the January 6 committee has intensified its investigation. It has issued dozens of subpoenas to the former president’s allies and pursued reams of documents relating to the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee voted to formally censure Cheney and Kinzinger for their participation in the probe, earning a rebuke from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who said “that’s not the job of the RNC”.
Biden 2020 donors also crossed party lines to support a handful of Republican Senate candidates in 2021. Ten per cent of people who donated to Lisa Murkowski’s campaign last year also contributed to Biden in 2020.
Murkowski, one of the seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, is facing an uphill battle for re-election this autumn, with Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka challenging her in a primary for the party’s nomination this summer.
Tshibaka’s campaign has drawn more heavily from former Trump donors than Murkowski’s.
While Kinzinger is not seeking re-election, Cheney is running again in Wyoming. She too faces a daunting re-election battle, with several primary challengers vying for the Republican party’s nomination in her seat this summer, including Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman.
Kinzinger has largely been abandoned by Trump 2020 donors, who make up only seven per cent of his contributors. Roughly a third of Cheney’s donor base are former Trump backers, but that is far lower than that of most other Republican congressional candidates.
Hageman’s campaign has drawn nearly half of its contributions from Trump donors.
Despite lacking strong support from Trump donors in 2021, Cheney is one of the most prolific fundraisers in the Republican party. Her campaign raised around $5.6mn from individual donors in 2021, up from $1.2mn in 2020. Thus far, Cheney’s fundraising haul dwarfs that of Hageman, who raised around $537,000 in individual contributions last year.
Murkowski has a similar edge over her primary challenger, having raised roughly twice as much money in individual contributions as Tshibaka.
While opposing Trump has not yet hurt fundraising for longtime incumbents such as Cheney and Murkowski, some pundits say newer Republicans who do not enjoy the support of the former president could struggle to raise cash.
Methodology: how the FT looked for donor overlaps in FEC filings
Full reproducible code for this story is available on GitHub
All contributions included in WinRed and ActBlue committee filings from the 2020 and 2022 cycles were aggregated and associated with corresponding candidate committees. Contributions through these platforms represent the vast majority of grassroots donations (by volume of contributions, not volume of funds), though are not fully comprehensive. For example, a very large check written directly to a candidate (or a much smaller one mailed in) would not be present in the data. This may mean that some very large contributions are missing, but for the purposes of this analysis, the size, or dollar amount, of a contribution is not relevant. In establishing overlapping bases of grassroots support, all donors count equally, as their contribution, regardless of amount, is interpreted as evidence of their support for a candidate.
Unique donor lists for each candidate were constructed, using first name, last name, zipcode combinations to identify donors (this generates some number of false positives and false negatives, but within an acceptable range). Comparisons across these donor lists were then used to determine overlapping donors between candidates.
Contributions were only assigned to a candidate if they were made “in-cycle” (eg a donation to Lisa Murkowski’s 2022 senate campaign made in 2019 would be excluded) and if they were given directly to a candidate’s committee, as defined by the FEC’s linkages. Contributions to joint committees, party committees, or otherwise-affiliated PACs are excluded from the data.
Total contributions to ActBlue for the 2022 cycle represent $754,328,731, while total contributions to WinRed for the 2022 cycle represent $517,758,435.