Washington – Following a national trend, Connecticut’s defense workers and their bosses overwhelmingly gave to the campaign of Hillary Clinton, while slighting that of Donald Trump.
As of the end of August, the Clinton campaign had raised more than $56,000 from individuals who work for 25 Connecticut Pentagon contractors identified by The Connecticut Mirror, while the Trump campaign had raised only $3,094. Even Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson raised more money from those companies than Trump – $8,600.
Nationally, the Center for Responsive Politics shows Clinton has raised more than $533,000 while Trump has raised about $136,000 from the defense sector.
The disparity is unusual, since historically more defense-related contributions have gone to Republicans. The industry overall favored Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles, with Democrats receiving more campaign cash from the sector only in 2008 and 2010.
This election cycle, the defense sector continues to give more to Republicans running for Congress, even as they embraced Clinton over Trump. Exceptions to this rule are Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services committees and those representing big defense-industry states like Connecticut.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the campaigns of members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation received more than $430,000 in campaign contributions from the defense sector as of June 30, the latest data available for this campaign cycle. Tens of thousands of additional contributions from individuals and PACs related to the industry were made to the lawmakers’ leadership PACs.
The gap between the candidates in contributions from the state linked to the defense industry is even greater than the disparity in overall donations from Connecticut residents to the presidential campaigns.
According to the Federal Elections Commission, Clinton has raised about $5.5 million in the state and Trump has raised about $478,000.
Besides the contributions of defense-company workers, a number of executives of large defense companies have opened their checkbooks for Clinton, including John Casey, who heads the Marine Systems division at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat, and Edward Kangas, then-chairman of the board of United Technologies.
Connecticut employees of General Electric, which is moving its headquarters to Boston, were the most generous to Clinton’s campaign, donating more than $23,000.
The only large defense contractor in Connecticut whose employees favored Trump over Clinton was Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin. Workers from that company gave Clinton only $435 and Trump $1,111. But many Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin workers donate to the Teamsters PAC, which has supported Clinton.
The Lockheed Martin, United Technologies and General Dynamics PACs have stayed out of the presidential race, preferring instead to donate millions of dollars to congressional candidates, a majority of them Republican.
The United Technologies PAC, for instance, has spent nearly $1 million on congressional races, giving 65 percent of its donations to Republican and 35 percent to Democrats.
Trump has vowed to beef up the nation’s military might. He has called for increases in military spending to boost the number of troops, ships, submarines and planes.
“History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military dominance,” Trump said earlier this year.
He said he would raise the money needed by seeking increases in the amount U.S. allies in Europe and Asia pay for the American military defense of their nations.
Like Trump, Clinton says she wants to increase Pentagon funding beyond the amount set by Budget Control Act caps, known as the sequester, which are slated to go back into effect in fiscal year 2018.
Clinton is considered more “hawkish” on defense than President Obama, but it’s unclear how she would spend a larger defense budget. Her campaign web site says Clinton would invest in innovation and military programs that would enable the United States to counter “21st century threats.”
University of Connecticut political science professor Ron Schurin said the shift in defense industry donations away from the GOP in the presidential race is in line with a shift in the rest of corporate America away from Trump. They think the real estate mogul’s policies would be bad for business, Schurin said.
“These are leaders who are concerned about the strength of the economy,” he said.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, said Trump is “unpredictable,” and that concerns big businesses like the nation’s defense contractors.
“You can sense the entire business community, including the defense industry, is uneasy with a Trump presidency,” he said. “A case in point is that not a single CEO from a Fortune 100 company has donated to Trump.”
Correction: A quote from Loren Thompson has been updated to refer to the Fortune 100 rather than the Fortune 500.