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Tyson Whiting

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Clinton vs Trump: Who’s Collected the Most Fast-Food Funding?

Three ways restaurant workers are financing the presidential campaigns

Even though the United States’ top restaurant chains tend to give most of their political donations to Republicans, when it comes to choosing the next president, the people who work for these companies are giving more money to Democratic contender Hillary Clinton than Republican Donald Trump.

In February, Eater looked at how the Political Action Committees (PACs), CEOs, and employees of top American food chains like Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A supported political candidates between the 2011 and 2014 election cycles. Unsurprisingly, these corporations tend to support Republican candidates and organizations. Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, for instance, used its PAC to donate more than $2,000 to Every Republican Is Crucial PAC (ERICPAC), a PAC created by former congressman Eric Cantor that believes "one path will take us toward an unrecognizable America and the other will return us to our conservative roots."

But restaurant PACs — at least those on Eater’s list — aren’t donating to Clinton or Trump. Instead, PACs tend to work for the best interests of the company as a whole. For example, the PAC for DineEquity, which owns Applebee’s and IHOP, has donated to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Prosperity Project, which supports "strong conservative candidates who share Chairman Ryan's vision of commonsense fiscal policies." During the primary election season, White Castle’s PAC gave more than $2,000 to Republican presidential contender John Kasich, though not to any of the current nominees.

But employee views aren’t always in line with their company PACs. Many food industry workers have contributed to this election’s presidential campaigns, and are showing an overwhelming support for Clinton. Clinton has received thousands of dollars from restaurant workers, while Trump has rarely gotten more than a few hundred dollars from employees working for the restaurants on our list. The exception to this is a total contribution of more than $3,000 from McDonald’s workers. (Trump did get a late start in receiving campaign contributions: When he announced his candidacy in 2015, he said he would self-finance his primary campaign, rejecting donations from lobbyists and big donors with special interests. After becoming the Republican nominee, he began accepting more outside contributions.)

It’s worse for third-party candidates. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party received less than $1,000 from restaurant employees.

Photoillustration by Johnny Acurso. Trump: Ty Wright/Getty Images; Clinton: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Burgers, Fries, Monday: Dario Lo Presti, stockcreations, vovan/Shutterstock.

Like PACs, top executives also tend to keep their campaign contributions local. The CEO of Bloomin’ Brands, Elizabeth Smith, whose restaurants include Outback Steakhouse, was the only CEO on the list to donate to a presidential candidate. She has sided with Clinton, gifting Hillary for President a total of $5,400. Only one restaurant brand showed more support for Trump than Clinton: Someone from Dairy Queen donated $226 to Trump, while no one from that restaurant gave to Clinton.

Use the tool below to explore how much money those affiliated with restaurant chains have given to Republicans and Democrats this election season.


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