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Sorry President Trump, Defense Contractors Secretly Love Anti-War Bernie Sanders

Donald Trump has boosted the defense sector with record military spending but insiders have a soft spot for Bernie Sanders.

Last updates by
Mark Emem
January 11, 2020 2:00 PM
  • Military conflicts benefit defense stocks but insiders are donating more to anti-war candidates.
  • Democratic presidential candidates are out-raising Donald Trump at leading defense companies.
  • In some cases, Bernie Sanders has received nearly four times more than Trump.

Conventional wisdom would have it that the military-industrial complex prefers Republicans to Democrats in the White House as the former are viewed as being good for business. By this logic, insiders at defense companies would be fighting tooth and nail to get Donald Trump re-elected. But if the campaign donations of defense insiders are anything to go by, the opposite is happening.

According to the Federal Election Commission records released mid-December, insiders at leading defense companies are donating more to Democratic presidential candidates than to Donald Trump.

Defense Insiders are “Feeling the Bern”

Anti-war candidate Bernie Sanders seems to be benefiting the most from these donations. At nearly all major defense companies, insiders favored Sanders over all other candidates.

Sanders, who is among the most anti-war presidential candidates in the 2020 U.S. presidential race, reinforced his non-interventionist stance following the killing of powerful Iranian military official General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike outside Baghdad airport.

In a tweet, the Senator called for not just avoiding a war with Iran but also withdrawing U.S. troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Bernie Sanders
Source: Twitter

This hasn’t stopped Sanders from emerging as a favorite among insiders at defense firms – if donations are anything to go by. Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) offers the starkest gap between him and Trump. Insiders at the defense firm have donated to Sanders nearly four times what they gave Trump.

How Northrop Grumman insiders are donating to the 2020 campaign

Specifically, Northrop Grumman insiders donated $26,222 to Sanders. Other leading Democratic presidential candidates also outraised Trump at the defense contractor. Elizabeth Warren, who could be described as moderately non-interventionist, received $12,557. South Bend Mayor and veteran Pete Buttigieg got $11,758 while Joe Biden received $8,537. Donald Trump got $7,261.

Donald Trump
Source: opensecrets.org

Sanders’ largest campaign donation from defense insiders came from Boeing (NYSE:BA). The Vermont Senator received $52,208 against Warren’s $23,860. They both outdid Donald Trump who got $20,180.

The trend is repeated at General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), where as of mid-December Sanders had received $19,842 while Warren got $8,938. Trump, on the other hand, received $7,925.

Donald Trump vs Bernie Sanders – Insiders biting the hand that feeds them?

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) was no exception either. At the defense giant, insiders donated to Sanders double what they gave Donald Trump. Sanders received $26,247 while Trump who got $13,058. Biden was the second-placed favorite of Lockheed Martin insiders with a haul of $13,403.

Source: opensecrets.org

While insiders at the largest U.S. military shipbuilding firm Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) have been low-key on campaign donations, they too have favored Sanders.

At Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), the pattern was broken by Buttigieg who outperformed Sanders. The South Bend mayor got $17,579, Bernie got $16,464 while Warren received $11,456. The three all beat Donald Trump who received $9,463.