Politics

These are the cities where the biggest midterm campaign donations are coming from

Tom Steyer holds one of his Need to Impeach town hall meetings on March 20, 2018, in Largo, Md.
Jahi Chikwendiu | The Washington Post | Getty Images

With control of Congress up for grabs in November, several rich donors are already lining up to spend big in districts they may never even visit, let alone step into the local voting booth.

Campaign contributions from these long-distance donors are already flooding into some of the most competitive districts in the country, hoping to sway the outcome of the midterms.

Just as much of this campaign cash is coming from just a handful of individuals, the biggest of those donors are concentrated in just a few areas of the country.

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As of the first quarter, the 100 top individual donors to the upcoming House and Senate elections contributed a combined $154 million, according to a tally of campaign finance records by the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that amount, more than half came from just the top 12 donors on the list.

So far in this cycle, about two-thirds of all individual political campaign contributions of $200 or more have come from about one-quarter of 1 percent of American voters. (Smaller contributions are not required to be itemized with the donor's name and address.)

Overall, individual contributions represent nearly three-quarters of direct campaign spending reported to the Federal Election Commission. The rest comes from political committees that bundle contributions and disburse them to candidates. Most of the biggest committees are based in Washington, D.C., which remains the geographic center of American campaign finance.

Many of the top 100 individual donors are clustered in just a few other major metro areas, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and South Florida.

As a group, they tilt a bit more toward Republican and conservative candidates, according to the CRP data. So far, about $83 million has been spent on right-leaning candidates, compared with $65 million for Democrats and liberals.

Here are the major metro areas with the biggest pools of long-distance donors.

New York

Not surprisingly, the nation's financial capital is also the center of campaign cash supplied by individual donors.

So far this cycle, financier George Soros tops the list, with more than $7 million in donations to Democratic committees and candidates. Billionaire investor Robert Mercer, a backer of conservative causes and the Trump campaign, is also a major donor in this cycle, along with his wife, Diana.

On the Democratic side, James Simons, Mercer's one-time business partner at hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, is among New York's top donors, along with his wife.

Chicago

Chicago's biggest individual Republican donor, by a healthy margin, is Richard Uihlein, a Chicago businessman who founded a shipping company with his wife in 1980 after working for a family packaging business founded by his father.

So far in this election cycle, Uihlein and his wife have contributed more than $21 million to Republican and conservative candidates. Since 2010, Uihlein has given nearly $50 million to political organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records compiled by Ballotpedia.

Chicago is also home to Newsweb Chairman Fred Eychaner, a media entrepreneur who has given $4.6 million to Democratic candidates and committees so far this cycle.

San Francisco

San Francisco's biggest individual donors, Tom Steyer and his wife, have spent nearly $16 million in the current cycle to support Democratic and liberal candidates, according to CRP. Steyer, a San Francisco investor who retired in 2012 to focus on politics, spent more than $73 million in 2014 and roughly $100 million in 2016, according to Ballotpedia.

Steyer is also leading an initiative called Need to Impeach,which is geared toward influencing Congress to impeach President Donald Trump.

Billionaire real estate broker George Marcus and his wife have given $4.3 million to Democrats, as of the end of the first quarter.

Other top San Francisco donors include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and online brokerage founder Charles Schwab.

South Florida 

South Florida, which includes Miami, is home to a number of top long-distance political donors, along with other wealthy individuals who enjoy living in one of the seven U.S. states that don't collect income taxes.

Financier Donald Sussman, founder of the hedge fund Paloma Partners, so far tops the list of individual donors in the Sunshine State with more than $8 million in donations to Democratic political candidates and committees.

Other Renaissance Technologies investors, Henry Laufer and his wife, have contributed nearly $3 million to Democrats.

Brothers Jude and Christopher Reyes, founders of a Chicago-based beer and food distributor, have given more than $1 million between them to Republican candidates and committees.

Here are other metro areas that other top long-distance donors reported as their home base.