Growing influence of Latino donors is on the rise in the United States.

Juan Proaño
Nov 5 · 15 min read

Latino community on track to donate over $100 Million dollars to Democratic Presidential Candidates through 2020 elections.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong / AP

Having worked at the intersection of technology, politics and fundraising since 2002, I have always been fascinated by what data can reveal about human nature and our giving tendencies. My initial contract for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2002 was to build the first national voter file with 250 million registered and eligible voters in the United States with 40 years of voting history. This database and all of the systems it supported went on to raise over $65 million dollars online and for the first time in modern history, helping the DNC outraise the Republican National Committee. Since that time, I have worked on three Presidential campaigns and many more federal and state level campaigns for Democratic and progressive candidates.

This opportunity led me down a track to pursue my interest in technology and politics while helping non-profit organizations benefit from low dollar online fundraising. Since 2002, Plus Three has raised more than $500 million dollars for our non-profit clients including organizations like LULAC, Hispanic Federation, DREAM Activists, American Latino Museum , the Adelante Movement and countless other non-profit organizations nationwide. Today, we manage relationships with over 1 million Latinos online and we have had an opportunity to see first hand how Latinos can be engaged to promote advocacy and fundraising.

In all of these years of fundraising one thing I have not seen is an accounting by either of the major political parties of Latino giving. Granted, both the Democratic and Republican party talk about the importance of the Latino vote and Presidential campaigns are rolling out elaborate marketing campaigns trying to win over Latino voters, but who are Latinos actually investing in? For years we have had the technology and data to properly account for Latino giving and yet it’s something that has never been publicly made available until now.

Given the importance of the 2020 Presidential election and the focus on Latinos, and issues important to our community, we analyzed 4,712,247 contributions totaling $131,273,383 to Democratic Presidential Candidates to find out who Latinos are investing in this campaign cycle.


Executive Summary

Matching the all-contributions list of the ActBlue Data File against the “surnames occurring 100 times or more” list from U.S. Census 2010, we matched all of the individual contributions with the surname list to determine how much Latinos are investing in the Democratic Presidential campaigns.

Using a probability-weighted or expected-value method based on the prevalence of Hispanics for each surname, the best estimate from this surname contributor list is that 713,678 contributions (transactions, not donors) garnered $13.54 million from Latinos from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019 to the presidential campaigns. This data shows that Latinos contributed 10.31% of the total contributor dollar amount in the Census 2010 surname list.

Using ‘best guess estimate’ of the Latino contribution rate for (1) surnames with suppressed Hispanic prevalence values inside the surname list, and (2) surnames outside (not matched against) the list could add an additional $1.35 million to the estimate above for every 1% that can be attributed to Latinos.

Click here to view all of the fully interactive reports and analysis.

Estimating Latino Contributions to the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

ActBlue provides a semi-annual report of its itemized contributions to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This data is central to keeping transparency in the electoral process to ensure that no ‘dark money’ is influencing any candidate or subverting the U.S. election process. Presidential campaigns that use ActBlue for fundraising have their donations earmarked for their respective campaigns and can easily be distinguished for reporting purposes.

The FEC filing system is a place where anyone can see who is contributing to a campaign and at what levels. Additional data is available on all federal candidates, campaign committees, political action committees (PAC’s) and Super PAC’s.

This election cycle, the Democratic National Committee is using individual donations as a key factor in determining which candidates can advance in the Democratic debates. In order to reach the fifth debate in November, candidates must reach the threshold of 165,000 unique donors, and 600 unique donors in at least 20 states by October 25, 2019.

To date, only nine (9) candidates have qualified by meeting both the fundraising and polling threshold including: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, and Tom Steyer. Three (3) candidates who have met the fundraising threshold but have yet to meet the polling threshold are waiting to see if they may qualify including Tusli Gabbard, and Julian Castro. Beto O’Rourke met the fundraising threshold but dropped out on Friday, November 1st and is no longer seeking the Democratic party nomination.

At Plus Three, we use this public data to provide insight and shine light on how Latinos are engaging in political campaigns and specifically which campaigns they are donating to. The perception has long been that Latinos are not donors to political campaigns and are not heavily invested in the outcomes of elections when measured by giving tendencies or voter turnout.

In this report, we put this theory to the test.

Methodology

The ActBlue file “Mid-Year Report 2019" has 25,725,487 records with a total contributor receipt amount of $457,407,771. We prepared the dataset by removing all campaign committees, PAC’s, Super PAC’s and Non-Presidential campaign data. This yields a gross contributions dataset containing 4,712,247 transactions (totaling $131,273,383.49)upon which we based this analysis.

Surnames Occurring 100 Times or More from Census 2010

There are 162,255 total surnames which occur 100 times or more in Census 2010. In the data file, there is a distribution of self-reported race and ethnicity responses associated with each surname captured on the Census 2010 form. The possible choices are White (pctwhite), Black (pctblack), Asian or Pacific Islander (pctapi), American Indian or Alaskan Native (pctaian), two or more races (pct2race) and Hispanic (pcthispanic). Using the pcthispanic variable, we categorized surnames by Hispanic prevalence:

From examining the count and prop100k variables, these surnames which occur 100 times or more represents 294.9 million persons comprising 95.5% of the population. The 10,762 majority Latino surnames represent 41.8 million persons comprising 13.5% of the population.

Estimate 1: “Conservative Estimate”

Latinos contributed an estimated $6,919,339.10 from 361,945 estimated receipts. Latinos gave on average 5.14% of total contributions.

The average contribution amount across all ethnicities to Presidential campaigns is $27.86, but for the Latino community the average gift is $19.04. We see other subtle characteristics in how Latinos interact with each Presidential campaign and where campaigns are leveraging their policy platform to engage and solicit Latinos — and where campaigns are falling behind or failing altogether.

Estimate 2: “Best Guess Estimate”

Latinos contributed an estimated $13,540,405.62 from 713,678 estimated receipts. Using this model Latinos contributed an average of 10.31% of total contributions.

We used the percentage likely attributable to a surname of Hispanic origin (PCTHISPANIC) to measure the total contributor receipt amount by surname for all 43,269 surnames with pcthispanic > 4%. This is an expected-value estimate where the probability weights are the prevalence of Hispanic origin by surname as given by the variable PCTHISPANIC.

Latino Fundraising by Month

The U.S. Presidential campaign started in earnest on December 31, 2018 when Elizabeth Warren formed an exploratory committee to investigate a potential bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020. While Warren was introducing herself to the American public as a Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders was picking up where he left off in 2016 with the support of millions of people across the country. In Sanders first month of fundraising for the 2020 campaign, he raised $1,325,912 from Latinos and he has continued his torrid pace of fundraising which reached $4.72 million dollars (from Latinos) at the end June 2019.

The fundraising period and the rate of contributions is a key measure in determining if a campaign is growing its’ base of Latino donors or if its’ pool of Latino donors is shrinking after a fast start. Beto O’Rourke posted the best month of any Presidential candidate in March when he announced his campaign for President having raised $1,550,035 dollars from Latinos in that single period.

Only three (3) candidates have shown the capacity to grow their base of Latino donors: Sanders, Warren, and Castro. Most other campaigns have maintained a certain level of support but the numbers show no rate of increase from month-to-month other than the end of quarter burst of fundraising. In the case of Joe Biden, it might be too early to tell if his Latino fundraising peaked when he announced his candidacy or if it will taper off much like that of the O’Rourke campaign.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Latino Giving and Contributions by Month

The number of contributions and giving by Latinos skews significantly to the Sanders campaign. Sanders least productive month in May is better than peak month for every other campaign except two: Beto in March and Buttigieg in April.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Overall Latino Fundraising

First, let’s take a look at the total raised from Latinos by each Democratic candidate between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019:

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Bernie Sanders is by far the leader in fundraising from the Latino community (outpacing Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren). Sanders has taken in 34.9% of the overall Latino fundraising across all campaigns. Given the nature of his grassroots support and small dollar recurring contributions which drive the Bernie Sanders campaign, Sanders will continue to outpace his rivals and even further strengthen his fundraising position among Latinos over the course of the campaign.

Latino Fundraising Percentage

Aggregate amount of dollars raised from Latinos is not the only measure we investigated. We studied the strength of each campaign at attracting Latinos and engaging them as donors and found three campaigns that excelled above all the rest: Sanders, O’Rourke, and Castro.

Julian Castro did the best by far at bringing Latinos into his campaign as donors. 1 in 3 donors to the Castro campaign is Latino which far exceeds that of every other campaign. One might simply conclude that Castro raised more from Latinos given the fact that he is Latino, but that is only part of the story. While California and Los Angeles were the number one state and city for Latino fundraising, it was followed closely by Texas and San Antonio. For Castro, and to a certain extent O’Rourke, being from Texas benefited their campaigns when it comes to Latino fundraising. Let’s keep in mind that Texas has 11.9 million Latinos or 40.4% of the Texas population.

More concerning however is the fact that the top polling candidates (Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris) all faired poorly among Latinos (falling below the average in Latino fundraising). An inability to connect, engage, and solicit Latinos may portend weakness among a constituent group that will be critical in winning the primary and general election in 2020.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Top 100 Contribution Amounts by Surname

The U.S. Census publishes “Surnames Occurring 100 or more times” after it completes each census. The surnames are provided by census respondents and was first published in 2000. In the 2010 U.S. Census, new methods of processing this data led to significant improvements in the reporting available. With over 162,255 total surnames, which occur 100 times or more, it might seem like a daunting task to organize. Given that the Latino community is one of the fastest growing constituencies in the United States it makes it somewhat easier. For example, 3 of the top 10 surnames in the Unites States are Latino with over 1 million occurrences.

U.S. Census Top 10 Surnames:

Latino Surname Occurrences in U.S. Census Report

Latino Giving by Surname

It is likely that you may know someone named Maria, Juan, Hector, Sylvia, or Gloria, but its more likely that you know someone with the last name Garcia, Rodriguez, or Martinez since more than 1 million occurrences of these surnames are reported in the United States by the U.S. Census (2010).

Make no mistake, not all Latinos in the United States are the same, we come from different places and have our distinct values, identities, and politics. Most Latino families heritage can be traced back to Mexico, but many are from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, and over 33 different countries. It is also true that not all Latinos are immigrants as two-thirds of all Latinos are born in the United States. The 2017 U.S. Census counts 58,846,134 Latinos or 18.1% of the U.S. population.

Latinos also have their own value system and it’s these ideals that brings them into the political sphere. Just like each candidate for President is different, each Latino is different and invests in each campaign relative to the ideas and politics of a candidate.

Understanding how Latinos are engaging these Presidential candidates and how they are engaged gives us a viewpoint into understanding what drives these investments. Who are Latinos choosing to invest in allows us an opportunity to understand the makeup of these donors, where they are from, to whom and how much do they choose to contribute, and what they do in their everyday lives.

Latino Giving Surname Sphere

This interactive data sphere provides detailed information on over 10,000 Latino surnames and how much each has donated to Democratic Presidential campaigns.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Latino Giving Surname by Average Gift and Amount

Latino giving by surname contributions and average gift amount varies. Rodriguez, Garcia, and Martinez and the other top 10 Latino surnames contribute more than $1.1 million dollars combined.

Click here for the full interactive version.

Latino Giving by State

Latino giving also follows some obvious norms like population count and Hispanic propensity in a state. It’s no surprise that Latino giving is in line with the largest Latino populations by state (with over $4 million dollars coming from California).

Click here for the fully interactive versions.

Latino Giving by Zip Code

Latino giving reaches across the country from Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, California, and even Alaska. Latinos giving is centered in population areas that are predominantly Latino. There are over 2,000 zip codes in the United States where Latino population is greater than 50%.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Latino Giving Comparative Analysis to Minority Population.

Latino giving parallels that of the minority population in the United States with over 60% of the Latino giving coming from California, Texas, and New York (over $1 million each) and 17 other states donating over $100,000.

Fundraising by Occupation

Latinos run the gamut when it comes to their careers and occupations in the United States. Contrary to the data visualization below, not all Latinos who contribute to a Presidential campaign are “Not Employed” but rather are students who chose to donate in increments as small as $1.00 or persons who prefer to not provide their occupation.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Fundraising by Period

It is also possible to see a timeline of all the Latino contributions as they come in. Latinos who make the maximum contribution of $2,800 and even $5,600 are few and far between but they do exist. More prevalent are the small dollar donors who continue to donate over time to their preferred campaigns.

Click here for the fully interactive version.

Conclusion

Latinos in the United States are coming of age politically as they become more directly engaged with campaigns and elections. The 2020 election will be a milestone for Latinos as they look to invest more than $100 Million dollars in campaigns for Democratic Presidential candidates.

While most candidates are just introducing themselves to Latinos, Bernie Sanders has been running for President for 4 years now. The combination of Sanders name recognition and his continued efforts to appeal to Latinos wherever they live and work is a testament to his campaigns approach to reach out into every community and ask for their vote and financial support.

It is also important to recognize that a majority of Democratic Presidential campaigns are falling behind or failing altogether to engage Latinos and win their financial support. Having a diverse base of support is critical to winning the primary and general election, but it is also important for the purposes of funding a viable campaign that can make it through the primary and be competitive come the general election.

If we take a look at the campaigns that are currently winning the fundraising race, we can see how early investments by Latinos are helping these campaigns keep up with and exceed their fundraising goals. Staying above the 6.0% Latino fundraising threshold will be critical for the most competitive campaigns to continue to exceed their fundraising goals while remaining viable in the primary and general election. A diversified approach in fundraising makes financial sense.

Continued investments by Presidential campaigns in Latino staff, community outreach, and minority contracting is an excellent first step. Taking a “general market” approach to communicating and engaging with Latinos will separate winning and losing campaigns especially in population rich Latino states like Florida, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and California. What is at stake this election is unprecedented for the country but also Latino communities that have been under assault by this administration and their own government for too long now. Latinos are ready to roll-up their sleeves and open their wallet’s to help the next Democratic President get elected.

With the Latino vote at stake in the most competitive swing states and millions of dollars in contributions from Latinos the Democratic party and campaigns that ignore Latinos do so at their own peril.


This is the blog of Plus Three, a Design, Strategy, and Technology company for non-profit and political campaigns focused on fundraising. To learn more, feel free to get in touch through our website.


Research Team

Juan Proaño

Co-Founder of Plus Three

Juan Proaño is an entrepreneur, technologist, and business leader who is active in civic affairs and progressive politics. Proaño is the co-founder and CEO of Plus Three, a Florida based Technology company serving non-profit, advocacy, membership, and political organizations. Founded in 2002, Plus Three has raised more than $500 million online and delivered over 1 billion emails for its’ non-profit clients. Juan is also the managing partner of Latino Strategies, a marketing and consulting company focused on engaging the U.S. Latino market which he founded in 2017.

In his two decades of entrepreneurship, Proaño has founded and managed three companies in the technology sector which have operated throughout the United States and South America.

Paulina Sosa

Data Visualizations

Is a current doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Public Health Informatics program, specializing in data analytics, visualization, and machine learning. Sosa is also President Elect for the Latino Caucus for Public Health, and the campaign manager for the advocacy arm, Latinx Voces en Salud.

Paulina also works as the Assistant Editor at the American Journal of Public Health of APHA, and is working as a research assistant at the Global Public Health Observatory of Johns Hopkins. Sosa has worked both as a data analyst at the PAHO/WHO Influenza Team, and prior to attaining her MPH, worked in policy analysis with Texas State Representative Rene O. Oliveira, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, and in a number of city-based community engagement initiatives with the City of Austin.

Faisal Sikder

Data Research and Management

Is currently working as Staff Software Engineer and R&D supervisor at VIAVI Solutions. Faisal’s current research is on machine learning and AI algorithm development for resource constraint platforms. Sikder received his Doctorate in Computer Science from University of Miami. His research interests include big data & machine learning, wearable sensors and their applications, the Internet of things (IoTs), and distributed computing in the IoTs.

Plus Three

Online fundraising technology and strategy

Juan Proaño

Written by

Juan Proaño is an entrepreneur, technologist, and business leader who is active in civic affairs and progressive politics. Proaño is co-founder of Plus Three.

Plus Three

Online fundraising technology and strategy

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