Elections are costly. Candidates, especially those running for president, have to consider how to pay for staff salaries, speaking venues, travel, food, and state election fees, among other things. Fundraising, then, becomes an integral part of political campaigns, and some areas of the country are better equipped to contribute than others.
Campaign donations are broken into two categories: itemized and unitemized contributions. All contributions between $200 and $2,700 — the contribution limit to a single candidate — must be itemized, which entails disclosing to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the amount, donor’s name, zip code, occupation, and donor’s employer. Donations below $200 are not required to be itemized — although some are. Based on FEC campaign finance data from the beginning of each candidate’s campaign through February, these are the zip codes contributing the most to Republican presidential candidates.
While an unitemized donation is necessarily smaller than an itemized donation, unitemized donations still represent a significant share of a candidate’s fundraising efforts. Unitemized contributions to Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign, for example, account for 41.7% of the $66.2 million raised from individuals. Donald Trump, on the other hand, who is largely financing his own campaign, does not need to court donors in the same way. Just one-quarter of the $9.5 million raised by his campaign is from itemized donations.
Areas in a candidate’s home state are often home to the largest donors. Of the eight zip codes in the country donating more than $500,000 to Republican candidates for president, five are located in Texas, the home state of Sen. Cruz and a state with strong familial ties to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz led GOP fundraising efforts in the Texas zip codes, raising a combined $2.2 million.
Additionally, many zip codes donating the most money did so early in a candidate’s campaign, a sign of a well established financial apparatus as well as a signal of strong initial support. Indeed, Cruz raised nearly half of the money in the 77024 zip code of Houston in the four months after he announced his bid for the Republican nomination.
While these zip codes have each donated more than $500,000 to Republican presidential candidates, political contributions from these areas are not exclusive to the GOP. In fact, the two zip codes donating the most to Republicans located in New York City — 10022 and 10065 — have donated far more to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign than any Republican candidate.
Unsurprisingly, individuals donating the most to presidential candidates live in affluent areas. In five of the eight zip codes contributing more than $500,000 to Republican candidates, the median annual household income is greater than $110,000, more than double the U.S. figure. The median household income in Houston’s 75225 zip code is $156,173 a year. At least $700,000 has been raised so far from that zip code.
Successful fundraising does not necessarily translate to popular support, however. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for example, raised more than $33.5 million through private contributions, yet suspended his campaign after disappointing finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, on the other hand, has raised just $9.5 million through February.
To determine the zip codes donating more than $500,000 to Republican presidential hopefuls, 24/7 Wall St. looked at itemized contributions reported to the FEC by each candidate’s campaign as of the March 2016 filing period. Additionally, we considered median household income and educational attainment rates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS).
These are the eight zip codes donating more than $500,000 to Republican candidates.