Peter Thiel, the Right’s Would-Be Kingmaker

At an October dinner at Stanford University for the Federalist Society, he spoke about the “deranged society” that “a completely deranged government” had created, according to a recording of the event obtained by The New York Times. The United States was on the verge of a momentous correction, he said.

“My somewhat apocalyptic, somewhat hopeful thought is that we are finally at a point where things are breaking,” Mr. Thiel said.

Mr. Thiel, 54, has not publicly said what he believes about the 2020 election. But in Mr. Trump, he sees a vessel to push through his ideological goals, three people close to the investor said. The two men met recently in New York and at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. Mr. Thiel also funded an app company run by John McEntee, one of Mr. Trump’s closest aides, two people with knowledge of the deal said.

Unlike traditional Republican donors who have focused on their party’s winning control of Congress and the White House, Mr. Thiel has set his sights on reshaping the Republican agenda with his brand of anti-establishment contrarianism, said Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist.

“I don’t think it’s just about flipping the Senate,” said Mr. Bannon, who has known Mr. Thiel since 2016. “I think Peter wants to change the direction of the country.”

Mr. Thiel’s giving is expected to make up just a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars that are likely to flow through campaigns this cycle. But the amounts he is pouring into individual races and the early nature of his primary donations have put him on the radar of Republican hopefuls.

In the past, many courted the billionaire Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, who died in 2021. This year, they have clamored for invitations to Mr. Thiel’s Los Angeles and Miami Beach homes, or debated how to at least get on the phone with him, political strategists said.