Joe Biden shares a screen with George Clooney. Her running mate Kamala Harris takes part in an internet quiz alongside half a dozen actors from the Marvel saga.
Driven by Hollywood stars and a strong sense of rejection against Donald Trump, the Democratic Party’s campaign fundraisers, virtual due to the pandemic, have reached new heights in California this year.
In this Democratic stronghold, the richest state in the country, Joe Biden exceeds his opponent by more than thirty points in the race for the White House, according to the latest polls.
Californians alone cannot change the course of the November 3 election with their ballots, but their financial donations weigh heavily at the national level and experts say they have never seen such activism on the part of celebrities.
“It’s incredible. My mailbox is filled with messages every day from all professionals in the entertainment industry: the financial side, the creative side … music, cinema, television, everything, “said Bill Carrick, specialist in strategy for the entertainment industry, to AFP. Los Angeles-based Democratic Party.
During the campaign, the actors of “Seinfeld”, of “Happy Days” and of “The West Wing” thus organized meetings on the internet, and all Hollywood trades – screenwriters, directors, producers, agents – s ‘are also investing, he says.
Places for a virtual discussion with Hillary Clinton hosted by comedian Amy Schumer for example reached $ 50,000 on Wednesday.
“The pandemic has created these virtual fundraisers, mainly on Zoom, and they are a huge success,” said Carrick.
According to Steven Maviglio, strategy expert in Sacramento, the Democratic Party in California has collected “almost double from four years ago.”
California “has always had a reputation as a kind of cash machine,” he explains. “But this year the nominees haven’t come very much to attend in-person events. It’s the money that went to them ”.
Biden at the Oscars in 2016
California is the biggest contributor for Joe Biden: an estimated $ 105 million to $ 150 million. This would represent about 20% of the total sum raised by its campaign committee, indicates the NGO Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
For comparison, Donald Trump got around $ 60 million in the state.
With the exception of Silicon Valley and its technology firms, Hollywood remains “the source of funding, with people who are passionate about politics” and “providential stars”, summarizes Mr. Maviglio.
Joe Biden also benefits from the solid contacts he made in Hollywood when he was senator and then vice-president. He even took the stage at the Oscars ceremony in 2016.
Steven Spielberg ($ 5.1 million) and actor-producer Seth MacFarlane (3.6 million) are among the biggest Democratic donors this year, according to CRP data.
Contrary to what we might have feared initially with the end of cocktails and gala dinners, the pandemic has not dried up fundraising. On the contrary, virtual events seem to have made things easier for everyone, experts say.
Celebrities no longer have to juggle complicated filming schedules, praise themselves or shake hundreds of hands. Ditto for wealthy donors, who can still meet their idols even if they no longer have access to autographs.
Hollywood is seen as overwhelmingly progressive, and 88% of the entertainment industry’s donations have gone to Democrats this year, according to the CRP.
The bosses of the big studios have however long financed the Republicans, from the magnate of the MGM Louis B. Mayer in the years 1920 to the narrow network woven in the showbiz by the president Ronald Reagan, himself a former actor.
But according to experts from both political camps interviewed by AFP, funding for Donald Trump is undeniably at half mast.
Anne Dunsmore, who has been raising funds for the Republican Party for decades, believes that the anti-racism demonstrations carried by the Black Lives Matter movement have boosted Democratic funding from Hollywood. Conversely, Republican donors preferred to remain discreet in this context.
“It is possible in some cases,” admits Bill Carrick. “Most importantly, they just don’t like Trump’s policies.”