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CEO Bluntly Breaks Down Why 'No Fortune 500 CEOs' Are Supporting Trump In 2024—And Hoo Boy

Screenshot of Jeffrey Sonnenfeld; Donald Trump
CNBC; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CEO Jeffrey Sonnenfeld went on CNBC to explain that Fortune 500 CEOs are refraining from supporting Donald Trump because of his economic policies.

During a CNBC appearance, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld—the founder and CEO of Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI)—explained exactly why Fortune 500 CEOs are refraining from supporting former President Donald Trump in this year's election.

Sonnenfeld called this a "historic break," noting that Trump's "economic package frightens" CEOs because it would increase inflation and hurt the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).


He said:

"We looked back on the data and we've been looking back the last four months. We've been pointing out there are no Fortune 500 CEOs who are supporting former President Trump. That is a historic break going back to William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, the Bushes, and everything, when it's been anywhere between 40 and 60 percent financial support."
"It's zero now and it was zero in 2016. The Trump economic package frightens them. It's extremely inflationary. The tariffs, 10% across the board, on all imports? That's just crazy and will lead to a 3% increase in inflation for sure and a plunge in the GDP."
"And that's before retaliatory gestures. The increase in the deficit, he wants to cut $5 trillion of taxes with no commensurate cut in expenditures. These are problems."

When asked if some of these predominantly Republican CEOs might end up voting for President Joe Biden this November as a result of these issues, Sonnenfeld was firm:

"They'll be Biden voters. They don't want the fabric of society pulled apart."

The Biden campaign later shared footage of Sonnenfeld's remarks to its official account on X, formerly Twitter, which you can watch below.

Sonnenfeld, who is the Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at Yale School of Management, and Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies, compiled data that Axiosobserved shows how easy it is "to overstate how much America's business establishment supports Donald Trump."

The outlet noted:

"Donations by CEOs of the country's 100 biggest companies haven't recovered since Trump became the Republican nominee in 2016. He also received no donations from the group when he opposed Hillary Clinton in 2016."
"In 2020, when he was running as the incumbent, Trump managed to pick up the support of two Fortune 100 CEOs. The last time a non-Trump Republican incumbent was running for president, in 2004, George W. Bush picked up the support of 42 CEOs."


Axios Visuals graph showing number of Fortune 500 CEOs who donated to GOP presidential candidatesAxios Visuals; Yale School of Management

Many noted this was a damning assessment suggesting major trouble for Trump and his supporters in the coming months.



In a New York Timesop-ed, Sonnenfeld pointed out that any misgivings these CEOs might have about Biden "are overwhelmed by worries about Mr. Trump, version 2024."

He added that "Mr. Trump’s primary conduits to the business community in his first term — more reasonable voices like those of Jared Kushner, Dina Powell, and Steven Mnuchin — are gone, replaced by MAGA extremists and junior varsity opportunists."

Big business did not "flock" to Trump before and they're less likely to now, he observed, concluding that Trump "continues to suffer from the lowest level of corporate support in the history of the Republican Party."

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