Trump comes to San Francisco for fundraiser, but this Bay Area city has already donated more

Before Donald Trump’s felony conviction raised him $141 million across the country in May, before his swing through San Francisco on Thursday where he’s expected to pull in millions more, another Bay Area city quietly topped his list of donations from Northern California.

It wasn’t the leafy climes of Palo Alto, Portola Valley and Atherton where tech billionaires have filled President Biden’s campaign coffers.

It’s a South Bay city more known for its ranch-style houses and high rents: San Jose.

The total amount San Jose residents donated to Trump during this election season through April doesn’t seem like much in the big picture — just $237,000 — especially since Trump raked in $53 million in the 24 hours after his May 30th conviction in his hush-money trial involving porn star Stormy Daniels. And it’s less than the $403,000 that Biden raised here during the same time.

But it was enough to land San Jose in the fourth spot of all California cities donating to Trump through April, behind San Diego, Los Angeles and Newport Beach.

“Sure, the billionaires make a lot of the headlines,” said political science professor Melissa Michelson of Menlo College, “but there’s a lot of folks out there at different levels of income who support Donald Trump — and he’s doing a lot of outreach to those folks and asking for donations.”

In the Bay Area’s deep blue bubble, which overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2020, it can be easy to overlook Trump’s support here. Trump earned 1 in 4 California votes in 2016 when he won the presidency, and 1 in 3 in 2020 when he lost. In San Jose, Trump earned a quarter of the votes in 2020 — 116,00 votes to Biden’s 307,000 —  while raising a third of the total money donated to either Biden or him.

Fundraising for both Trump and Biden over the past 16 months of the election season reflected that ratio: Of the more than $35 million California residents who have contributed to both presidential campaigns, one-third — $11.6 million — went to Trump’s campaign.

On Thursday, some of Trump’s MAGA supporters were expected to greet him as he headed to the Pacific Heights home of venture capitalist David O. Sacks, where tickets to his fundraiser cost upwards of $300,000. At the same time, an inflatable “Trump Chicken” balloon, wearing a black-and-white-striped convict top, was expected to form a protest of its own while sailing in front of Alcatraz.

Sacks, who had backed Gov. Ron DeSantis and then Vivek Ramaswamy during the GOP primary, was one of the first billionaires to support Trump after his conviction on 34 felonies. In a tweet, Sacks praised fellow California venture capitalist Shawn Maquire from Sequoia Capital for donating $300,000 to Trump on the spot.

“Trump has a lot of supporters in Silicon Valley. Many are just afraid to admit it,” Sacks wrote. “But with each act of courage, like this one, the dam begins to break.”

Indeed, Atherton billionaire and former Sequoia Capital partner Doug Leone, who renounced Trump after the Jan. 6 riot, tweeted Monday that he will be supporting Trump after all.

Certainly, San Jose has its share of tech engineers and executives who can afford $3 million homes in the neighborhoods of Willow Glen and Almaden Valley and have responded to Trump’s calls for cash. But residents of East San Jose, where the heavily Asian and Latino immigrants are noticeably shifting to the right politically, have, too. Two of those East San Jose ZIP codes made it to Trump’s donor list of top 5 ZIP codes in San Jose, behind Cambrian Park and Willow Glen.