News: CJ Exclusives

Zuckerberg among left-leaning influencers who poured money into N.C.

North Carolina, which saw a tightening of the presidential race in the 2020 election, was among the states that saw an influx of money from Mark Zuckerberg in the months leading up to the voting.

Donald Trump won the state by 177,000 votes over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the Democrats cut the margin of victory by more than half in 2020, when Trump won by 74,000 votes over Joe Biden. 

Capital Research Center noted that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $350 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which in turn gave the money to local election officials. CRC argues that the formerly small group “became an activist juggernaut with the means to effectively manage the election in numerous cities and battleground states across the nation.”

CRC said $4.3 million of these “Zuck bucks” went to 34 North Carolina cities and counties, in addition to a $1 million grant to the state board of elections. CRC said Biden gained about 80,000 votes in the counties that received the grants. 

CRC examined grants in other battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and – most notably – Georgia, which saw its electoral votes flip narrowly to Biden and whose two Senate seats flipped from red to blue. 

Scott Walter, CRC’s director, testified about the donations to a Senate committee, imploring lawmakers to look into the issue.

“The biggest question the Georgia legislature should ask is whether a California billionaire should be allowed to waltz into the Peach State and finance aspects of their elections?” Walter wrote in a recent blog post. “Do they want billionaires in the future to steer election resources so unequally and inequitably?”

The Zuckerberg donations follow along with a general trend in politics last year. A joint analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics found unprecedented growth in donations to federal Democratic candidates. Whereas spending on Democratic and Republican candidates in the past two presidential election cycles was relatively even at about $1.5 billion for each party, the advantage was stark for Democrats in 2020, who raised nearly $5 billion to the GOP’s $2 billion. 

That includes $1 billion in self-funding by Michael Bloomberg for his presidential campaign. Take that away and Democrats – who captured the Oval Office, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate – still held a 2-to-1 federal fundraising advantage in 2020.

The joint study said small donors giving $200 or less had a lot to do with the growth. Small donors gave $1.8 billion to federal candidates in 2020, triple the number from 2016. Democrats got 41% of their donations from these pledges.

“It’s easier than ever to donate to a political campaign online, and candidates invested big money into reaching those donors,” the analysis noted. 

Johnny Kampis is a freelance writer for Carolina Journal.