Pete Buttigieg in Derry

Pete Buttigieg takes selfies with voters after a town hall in Derry.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had the most New Hampshire campaign contributors in 2019, but Pete Buttigieg’s campaign had the biggest financial backing among Granite Staters.

Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, raised received $398,683.90 from New Hampshire donors last year, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

“From record crowds across the state to huge canvass kickoffs this weekend, the grassroots support for Pete Buttigieg in the Granite State is strong and growing,” said Kevin Donohoe, the campaign’s New Hampshire communications director.

Sanders’ 935 contributors made 10,550 gifts totaling $361,370. Several have given more than 100 times. The average New Hampshire contribution to the Vermont senator’s campaign is $34.25, the lowest average of all the presidential contenders.

Late January polls showed Sanders had the support of the largest proportion of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters.

President Donald Trump remained head and shoulders above the Democrats in his fundraising in the Granite State. The Republican’s campaign received $786,375 from 1,025 individual donors, as well as $337,664 from the Trump Victory PAC and the Make America Great Again PAC. A total of 736 individuals contributed to the PAC tally, bringing Trump’s total over $1.1 million.

Buttigieg’s 595 New Hampshire donors gave 5,015 contributions to the campaign. A Manchester man, James McLeod, gave to Buttigieg’s campaign 533 times.

McLeod said this is the first time he has given to a campaign.

“Up until 2016, I had just shown up at the ballot box, and voted for the lesser of two evils,” McLeod said. He voted for former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2016, but resolved to give President Donald Trump a chance after he won the election. He hoped Trump would drop what McLeod described as divisive rhetoric. McLeod said he was disappointed.

“I gave Trump a chance and he blew it before he even took the oath,” McLeod said.

He resolved to get more involved in politics.

“I felt like I kind of dropped the ball. Part of the reason we’re here now is the complacency people like me felt,” he said. “Trump got me mad, but Pete got me motivated.”

The former mayor’s message of inclusion and belonging resonated with him, McLeod said. He made his first donation when Buttigieg formed his exploratory committee, and he gave to help Buttigieg hit the criteria to appear in televised debates. He contributed $1,000 when Buttigieg became an official candidate, and decided to give the maximum $5,600 allowed under federal election law.

McLeod made the choice to give small amounts because the Democratic National Committee’s criteria to appear in the debates hinged, in part, on the number of donations candidates received.

“I could give a lot more often if I gave smaller amounts,” McLeod said. He gave just about every time the campaign asked, he said. “If they asked for $3, I gave $3. If they asked for $10, I gave $10.”

Tom Steyer, the Democratic billionaire businessman from California running for president, has the highest average gift from New Hampshirites, at $379. Just 18 Granite Staters gave money to Steyer’s campaign last year, according to Federal Elections Commission records. Steyer raised $3 million nationally last year, and spent $202.5 million of his own money — the bulk of it on television and digital ads.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had the lowest take from New Hampshire in 2019, after waiting until November to launch his campaign. Patrick’s campaign raised just $8,710 in New Hampshire last year.

Patrick’s campaign remains optimistic about the former governor’s chances in New Hampshire. Campaign manager Abe Rakov said during a Friday news conference that the campaign was seeing some “movement” after buying television ads that started airing on Jan. 6. Patrick is in the middle of a six-day bus tour through New Hampshire, and said Friday he thought he could make inroads with voters who are still undecided, or who are not fully committed to another candidate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden got just over $230,000 from New Hampshire voters in 2019, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren raised more than $200,500 here.

The largest expense for the Sanders, Biden and Warren campaigns was staff. In 2019, Sanders spent $14 million on staff, Biden paid his staff $11.7 million and Warren spent $16 million.

Buttigieg’s campaign spent the biggest chunk of its money on online ads last year, $11.6 million. The campaign’s payroll totaled $9.9 million in 2019.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.