According to Federal Election Commission data collected for 21 counties in the Times Free Press coverage area — Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama — Trump has raised over $1.7 million in individual contributions locally since Jan. 1, 2019. Biden has taken in just shy of $579,000 in the same timeframe.
Trump's overwhelming funding lead locally runs counter to the nation as a whole, as The New York Times recently reported that Biden decisively leads Trump in donations overall.
The county in this region with the strongest showing for Trump is Jackson County, Alabama, where 98.6 percent of individual contributions to Trump or Biden went to Trump. Gordon County, Georgia, was next with 94 percent.
The county with the least favorable ratio for the president was Marion County, Tennessee, with 52.9 percent of contributions for Trump. Whitfield County, Georgia, was Trump's next weakest area, with 59 percent of contributions going to Trump.
Ooltewah, Tennessee — an affluent suburb of Chattanooga — was one of the most distinctly pro-Trump areas in the region's individual fundraising, with individuals donating over $84,000 to Trump's re-election campaign, compared to $13,500 for Biden.
"It's because he thinks for himself and he doesn't owe many political favors," said one of the Trump donors, Dale Reynolds of Ooltewah who has donated $1,000 to the campaign, according to records.
"I'm pro-life, and it's a big deal to me that he's put conservatives on the Supreme Court," Reynolds said. "I work for myself and grew up as a farmer. I appreciate what he's done and what he has tried to do for business owners and for farmers."
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One of the few areas in the region where Biden has received more monetary support than Trump is Sewanee, Tennessee, in Franklin County. Citizens there contributed $14,873 to Biden and $3,306 to Trump.
Cynthia Potter, who has lived in Sewanee for several decades, attributed the area's donations to a culture of open-mindedness, due in part to the local University of the South.
"And it's not just the university. There really is a culture of listening to people and hearing ideas different from your own and teaching our kids to do the same here," said Potter, a retired school teacher who gave $53 to Biden. "And I really do value what Joe Biden is trying to do to protect the democratic system, and that's the only way to maintain it.
"It's really about having a strong critical thought process and being open to learning more. And there's really one candidate who sees it that way."
While funding favors Trump locally, a survey of local business, nonprofit and government leaders last week favored Biden and predicted he would win the election on Tuesday.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.