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These 32 “Key” Zip Codes for 2016 Are Super Wealthy and Super White

January 30, 2015 | Adam Smith

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Just 32 zip codes are “likely to be key” for establishment Republican presidential candidates, according to The Wall Street Journal. These neighborhoods aren’t key because they are vote-rich or represent a cross-section of America, but because they are filled with really rich people who are generous political givers.

These are the places where a candidate like Jeb Bush (and whoever ends up on the Democratic side) will spend a lot of time in order to raise up to $100 million to snag the Republican nomination for president.

What do these neighborhoods look like? Not the rest of America.

Using census data, we took the list of 32 zip codes in the story and looked at median household income and racial diversity in those areas.

The result? Presidential candidates will be spending a lot of time schmoozing with really rich white people. The median family income of these 32 communities is about $111,000, almost double that of the country as a whole. That’s also the combined annual salary of about seven minimum wage workers. None of the zip codes are less than 60.6% non-Hispanic white.

So, why does this matter?

As Demos’ David Callahan and J. Mijin Cha wrote in Stacked Deck in 2013, the people in these zip codes–the donor class–simply have different priorities than the rest of America. And when candidates are spending all their time dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers with this elite set of Americans, it’s impossible for them to be unaffected by it.

When it comes to race instead of income, the story’s the same. As Demos’ Adam Lioz wrote in a 2015 follow-up to Stacked Deck focused on race and money in politics, “Elections funded primarily by wealthy, white donors mean that candidates as a whole are less likely to prioritize the needs of people of color; and that candidates of color are less likely to run for elected office, raise less money when they do, and are less likely to win.”

The 2016 presidential election will be the most expensive in history, and if this week’s announcement by the Koch brothers is any sign, it’ll be more influenced by millionaires and billionaires than ever before. And all of this money from a small fraction of the American people, and the influence it buys, will have a big impact on the policies politicians enact.


Public Campaign Research Analyst David Duhalde contributed to this report.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.

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