Real estate donors are turning away from Trump

SALT deduction cap and trade war with China have hurt the industry

Donors favor Democrats over Trump (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)
Donors favor Democrats over Trump (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

As a Republican, an incumbent and a former developer, President Donald Trump should have no trouble harnessing donations from the real estate industry.

But new data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that the president is lagging behind Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg this year when it comes to donations from individual real estate donors.

Trump has raised just $902,723 from them compared to Biden’s $1.04 million and Buttigieg’s $964,912, the center found.

Sean Burton, a Los Angeles-based executive at real estate investment firm Cityview who supports Biden, told Bloomberg that policy changes under Trump — notably tariffs on China and a cap on state and local tax deductions — had caused frustration in the industry.

“People in California were very upset about SALT,” he said. “And there’s been a significant pullback of Chinese capital in real estate over the last few years.”

The real estate industry has traditionally donated more money to Republican candidates than Democratic ones, and Trump received $5 million from the real estate industry in the last general election.

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But the industry has taken a major hit this year with a sharp decline in Chinese investment, which has contributed to a slump in luxury sales in New York.

The power of the industry is not lost on Trump.

“It’s the biggest business,” he said at the National Association of Realtors’ convention in May. “There’s nothing close.”

“You know, as a group — as a group, you’re a tremendously big business and a very powerful business, politically, because you have numbers. Numbers is power.”

[Bloomberg] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan