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 Democratic 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 former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for example, account for 19.7% of the $145.4 million raised from private individuals through February. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, on the other hand, who boasts more than 3 million individual contributions, relies on smaller contributions to fund his campaign. As much as 68% of the $138 million raised by the Sanders campaign was through unitemized contributions.
Areas in a candidate’s home state are often among the largest donors. Of the eight zip codes in the country donating more than $800,000 to Democratic candidates for president, five are located in New York, where Clinton was elected twice to the U.S. Senate. Those zip codes have contributed at least $4.3 million to Clinton’s campaign. In fact, Clinton raised far more money than her opponents in all of the top zip codes contributing to Democrats.
Many of the 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, Clinton raised nearly half of the money contributed in the 10023 zip code of New York City in the three months after she announced her bid for the Democratic nomination.
Unsurprisingly, individuals donating the most to presidential candidates live in affluent areas. In all of the zip codes contributing more than $800,000 to Democratic candidates, the median annual household income is greater than $100,000, nearly double the U.S. figure. The median household income in Chevy Chase, MD — zip code 20815 — is $136,098. Democrats have raised more than $877,000 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 $800,000 to Democratic presidential hopefuls, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 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 $800,000 to Democratic candidates.