The Golden ZIPs
By Dwight L. Morris
While home may well be where the heart is, for politicians looking to finance their campaigns for high office, the grass is definitely greener in California and New York.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had a tough race in 1994 and he was in New York and Los Angeles often. Well-heeled New Yorkers donated $1,047,481 to his successful reelection effort, accounting for 16 percent of his large donations. Trips to California netted another $926,736 in large individual contributions during the four-year period Those two states combined gave him more money than the $2,009,906 of his large individual donations from his own home state of Massachusetts.
Every politician looking for money nationally quickly comes to look for the contributions in the Golden ZIPs, those ZIP codes that produce the lion's share of the campaign contributions each year in America. From Beverly Hills to Manhattan's Upper East Side and the Washington K Street Corridor, these ZIP codes are the money spigots to be tapped. (A quick note: Federal law allows contibutors to list their address either at home or at work. Thus, a lot of the Golden ZIPS are where the contributors work, not where they live.)
In total, Americans gave more than $1.1 billion to candidates, parties and political action committees in contributions of more than $200 in the four years between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 1994. California residents anted up nearly $155 million of that total while New Yorkers donated almost $123 million &endash;together accounting for roughly one-quarter of all large contributions.
The elder Kennedy went elsewhere as well to pick up a total of $6.7 million in large individual donations during the four year period. He collected $395,607 from Florida residents. Individual donations from Illinois ($329,631), New Jersey ($309,815), Washington, D.C. ($259,484), and Texas ($240,851) helped out nicely. Rounding out the states from which he pulled at least $100,000 were Maryland ($143,671) and Virginia ($101,932).
Clearly, the out-of-state fundraising is not restricted to the elder members of the Kennedy clan.
Both Kennedy's son, Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, and his nephew, Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, hit the national fund-raising circuit with gusto.
Massachusetts residents supplied 62 percent of the $456,146 in large contributions Joe Kennedy raised for his 1992 campaign, but only 45 percent of the $728,511 in large contributions he collected during 1993 and 1994. Californians and New Yorkers donated roughly 19 percent of the large donations he collected between 1991 and 1994. During that span, he received at least one contribution of $200 or more from supporters in 37 states.
Elected in 1994, Patrick Kennedy received $472,902 in large donations; only 15 percent of that total ($71,490) was raised in Rhode Island. He pulled in donations of $200 or more from residents of 26 other states and Puerto Rico, including $51,800 from neighboring Massachusetts; $47,600 from Washington, D.C.; $44,000 from Missouri; $42,975 from California; and $30,350 from New York.
Although his popularity sagged somewhat in Virginia, Senator Charles S. Robb collected at least one check of $200 or more from supporters in 47 states. While Virginians supplied him with large donations totaling $979,673, that represented only 35 percent of the money he raised from major donors. Numerous sojourns to New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and Florida brought in $348,182, $220,149, $199,550, $113,100 and $109,050, respectively. Individuals listing Washington, D.C. addresses provided $209,221 worth of aid and comfort to the beleaguered Virginian.
New to campaigning but hardly new to politics, Oliver L. North raised nearly $21 million for his unsuccessful challenge to Robb, roughly $17 million of which came in through his nationwide direct-mail fund-raising operation. Of the $3,059,934 he raised from donors who gave at least $200, one-third ($1,051,974) came from Virginia residents. Supporters in California showered him with large donations totaling $289,082. Large-donor events in Florida helped raise $197,586, while similar soirees in Texas netted $171,195. In each of 26 other states, his large donations exceeded $20,000. He collected at least one $200 check from supporters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Significantly less well known but equally successful at raising money, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg collected $4,007,879 in large donations between January 1991 and December 1994. Lautenberg raised 43 percent of that total ($1,718,335) in the Garden State, but he also reached across the Hudson River to pull in $729,094 from New York. Events in California brought in $258,148. Wealthy supporters in Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois added a total of $475,268 to his coffers.
Fueled largely by donations from Washington D.C's seemingly inexhaustible list of lawyer-lobbyists, six of the ten zip codes generating the largest political contributions were located in our nation's capital. Residents and business donors who listed addresses located within the boundaries of zip code 20036&emdash;which is home to a bevy of professionals boasting median household incomes of nearly $52,000&emdash;pumped $17,830,412 into the coffers of federal candidates, PACs and party organizations during the first four years of this decade. During that same period, those calling zip code 20003 (the Capitol Hill area) home, either by day or by night, generated contributions totaling $15,673,412, which was good enough for second place on the all-money zip code list.
Third and fourth place belonged to zip codes 10021 and 10022, an area of Manhattan frequently referred to as the "Gold Coast." After three more inside-the-beltway neighborhoods and a third Manhattan zip code, came 90210 in Beverly Hills. Populated by a mix of the super rich (median incomes in the $95,000 range), executives with incomes averaging $68,000, and older couples pulling down an average of $53,000, this Hollywood enclave might well have finished higher were it not for the fact that many of its most distinguished residents listed their business addresses, located throughout the Los Angeles basin, as often as their residential addresses when making donations.
Virtually every night between now and November candidates will wing their way to one of these financial gold mines in search of their next big payday. As every politician will attest, it's tough work. But somebody's got to do it.
This article originally appeared on the ElectionLine Web site.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company