The food and beverage industry has traditionally supported the Republican party, at least for the past two decades. As the Center for Responsive Politics states, the industry—including bars, restaurants, soft drink companies, candy manufacturers, and, of course, the big fast-food companies—regularly gives upwards of 70 percent of its contributions to Republicans. In fact, "Democrats have never received more than 40 percent of the interest group's contributions."
That is, until this presidential election.
Donald Trump's love of fast food has been snubbed, big time. Despite his vocal affinity for any number of items that you can grab at a drive-thru window—from KFC to McDonald's—fast food companies and the rest of the industry haven't been putting their money where his mouth is.
A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on May 26, 2016 at 2:29pm PDT
In fact, Hillary Clinton has received more than $1 million from food-and-beverage companies in the most recent election cycle, but Trump only took in $152,000. Although completely out-of-whack with the most recent presidential elections, where Republicans way out-hauled Democrats, these numbers are in keeping with Hillary's consistent outstripping of Donald in corporate fundraising.
Bottom line is that Clinton has been pulling in big bucks from big corporations, whereas Trump's coffers have been largely ruled by small donors. A glance at Clinton's top donors—JP Morgan, Citibank, Google's parent company, and the University of California, to name just a few—and Trump's—which includes lesser-knowns like Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Renaissance Technologies—shows that the highest echelons of corporate America are siding with Clinton—and the food industry isn't any exception.
Oh, and just in case you were interested, here's a list of just some of the food industry players who have contributed to the The Clinton Foundation previously and into June of this year: McDonald's Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, the Monsanto Company, Paul Newman and Newman's Own Foundation, and Unilever.
Is it Trump's misogynistic shaming of people he perceives to be fat, like former Miss Universe Alicia Machado? The outrageous insults he has hurled at Hispanics, who make up so much of the food industry's workforce? Or just the serial lying, the promise to ban Muslims from entering America, the semi-veiled incitements to violence or… well, we could go on and on?
Maybe the uncharacteristic donation preference for Clinton simply reflects the industry's desire to put their money with someone more likely to win. As Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, told Mother Jones, the preference probably reflects a desire "to get on the good side of the winning candidate."
Two caveats should be noted. First, Trump has been gaining on Clinton in the polls of late, and more recent donations from the food industry may certainly reflect this trend. What's more, one segment of the food industry has been more pro-Trump that the others: big meat. Several meat businesses have made sizable donations to his campaign.
Trump has certainly been a sui generis presidential candidate from the get-go, and his lack of support from the food industry is unusual, to say the least. We'll find out in November if the fast food giants, Big Ag, and restaurateurs have made a good bet.