For Overdrive readers at least, the 2020 presidential election is shaping up to look quite a lot like the 2016 one, when Donald Trump garnered right at three-fourths of the votes in our polling of the readership, and Hillary Clinton was just a point shy of what the Democratic challenger this year, Joe Biden, has managed to garner among readers.
Distribution of owner-operators’ support for Trump / Biden
Amid the myriad scandals that have chased the Trump presidency, the administration benefited from relatively positive economic headwinds before the COVID-19 pandemic came along and changed the outlook significantly, broadly speaking.
Some in trucking have lauded what might be the Republican Party’s signature achievement over the four years in tax legislation that cut corporate rates and delivered savings to some individuals and small businesses. Yet many in trucking experienced that bill’s passage as a slight rise in their taxes, with for instance changes in employee drivers’ ability to take per-diem deductions, among other things.
Yet the legislation’s net potential long-term effects were seen by many as positive for economic output — and freight — if they didn’t translate to obvious, direct tax savings.
The electronic logging device mandate took effect, despite some owner-operators’ hope this administration might be able to halt it. Yet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration during this term has been more purposeful in its outreach to independents and drivers as a general rule, particularly when it came to the hours of service revision that went into effect in September, offering greater flexibility.
The administration’s recent stall with Congress on additional economic stimulus, however, has led some in the readership toward hope for a Biden win, evidenced by recent conversations, and bigger efforts therein, likewise when it comes to long-stalled infrastructure funding work.
It’s pretty clear to which side the trackable money has gone, too. As has been the case since the mid-90s, political contributions deemed as from the trucking industry heavily favor Republicans in the 2020 election cycle, which includes Congressional races.
According to publicly available data from the Federal Election Commission compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, donations to Republicans by trucking groups and individuals total $6.9 million so far, while donations to Democrats total just $1.4 million. That’s a 82% to 17% split.
Likewise, donations to Trump far outweigh those to Biden among trucking contributors. Trump’s $1.1 million bests Biden’s $133,000 from trucking. That tracks closely to 2012’s numbers, when challenger Republican Mitt Romney received $1.2 million from trucking interests, while former President Barack Obama received just $91,000.
In 2016, however, trucking donations to Trump were just $341,000, compared to $137,000 to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Political donations tallied as from the trucking industry include contributions made by lobbying groups like the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, as well as companies that operate within trucking, such as Paccar, Crete Carrier Corp., Prime, Knight-Swift, Werner and others. All of the aforementioned companies and groups rank within the top 20 trucking contributors by dollar amount. CRP’s totals also count contributions made by individual donors that donated more than $200.
ATA is by far the largest contributor this cycle, having donated nearly $650,000 so far, split at 60/40 favoring Republicans.