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Big Republican Donors Are Stuck

The big Republican donors didn't help Trump much in 2020 and now many of them want no part of him. Big donors tend to care about things like lower taxes, smaller government, a balanced budget, and stuff like that. They don't want to hear endlessly about election fraud and Trump's claim that he won in 2020. They are now frantically looking for someone else to support in the Republican primary and having a lot of trouble finding a viable candidate.

FEC data shows that donations of $250,000 or more are down 24% compared to 2016, when there was also a competitive Republican primary. Only 66 people have made that size donation to one of the Republican candidates' super PACs this year. But not having big donors is not hurting Trump much because he is a master at grift at fundraising from small donors. His supporters will skip lunch and give their last $10 to him if he asks for it.

The big donors are still shopping around. Billionaire cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder met with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) after giving up on Trump, and is now intrigued by Nikki Haley. The problem that the big donors have is that they are all very familiar with the term "return on investment" and know that investing in a candidate who loses the primary yields zero return. So they tend to be torn between going with a candidate they like, but don't think can win, and a candidate they like less, but think has a better chance. It's tough being a billionaire donor. You can't always get what you want.

Billionaire John Catsimatidis, the CEO of the Gristedes supermarket chain, said the mood of the high-end donor class is confusion. He said: "Republican donors want a pro-business, no nonsense person and they want a person that's capable of having the sex appeal to be able to win 51 percent." However, Catsimatidis did say that he might contribute to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign, on the theory that he could hurt Joe Biden at least. That's better than doing nothing. Many of them think that Trump won't be able to win the general election. Some billionaires, like Ken Griffin and Thomas Peterffy, are just staying on the sidelines and not wasting their precious money. (V)

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