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Who Gives Two Cents?

Kerri Provost

July 26, 2010

There are many ways to look at economic disparities. Another way is to examine how Hartford compares to other areas of Connecticut. The following data is provided by OpenSecrets.org and is evaluated by zip code for 2008 and 2010:

06105: The West End and part of Asylum Hill has made the top political contributions (in terms of money) in the city. OpenSecrets.org ranks this area as giving six times what the average one does. So far in 2010, 06105 has spent $139,815 and in 2008 gave $392,934. The economic depression/recession has seemingly had little effect — looking at data since 1994, 2008 proved to be an outstandingly lucrative one for those on the receiving end of these contributions. For perspective, only about one third of what was given in 2008 was given in 2000 — both major national election years.

06112: This area gives about 1/9 as much as the average zip code. This is an interesting way to look at economic disparity: two abutting zip codes, with one giving six times the average, and one giving 1/9 the average. In 2008, this area gave $5,440 and so far this year, has contributed $2,300.

06103: The smallest division, both in terms of geography and residential population, happened to have the second largest amount of political contributions made in Hartford. As of publication, $136,117 have been donated this year from the downtown area. in 2008, $318,034.

06106: The data for this section was surprising to me at first (contributes slightly more than average) until I remembered that 06106 goes beyond Frog Hollow and Behind the Rocks. It also encompasses Southwest, Charter/Shelden Oak, part of South Green, and Parkville. Tracking by zip code is an inexact science. The population for 06106 is far more than 06103, yet the contributions do not reflect the difference in population size, which is true also when comparing data between towns and cities. In 2008, $67,464 came out of 06106, and so far in 2010, $21,980 has been contributed.

06114: The South End and South Meadows area contributed $4,850 so far in 2010 and $21,735 in 2008. This is 1/4 of what the average zip code area gives.

06120: $5,350 contributed to date in 2010 and $13,115 in total for 2008.

To put this in another perspective, all zip codes in West Hartford combined, gave $1,222,298 in 2008. The West Hartford population is 61,046. Greenwich zip code 06830 contributed in 2008: $6,753,431. The Greenwich population is 24,406. The grand total of political contributions from Hartford in 2008 is $728,722 and our total population is 124,513 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Danielson, in Windham County, has an estimated population of 10,477 and only $1,646 was given as political contributions in 2008.

To break this down further, if each person in Danielson contributed, it would be 15 cents per person. If everyone in Hartford contributed, it would be at $5.85 per person; for West Hartford, it would be $20.02 each. And, if everyone in Greenwich contributed, it would be at $276.71 per person.

A few questions to ponder: do people receive less representation because they contribute less? Do people contribute less because they feel underrepresented? Do money and political attention have any connection to each other whatsoever?

Something I noticed about who was giving money: a large number of homemakers and students/unemployed were donating large amounts of money, as in, over $250. Perhaps I’m just not the giving type, but the last thing that I would do if unemployed would be to dip into my savings to give a chunk of it to a politician. I’m inclined to believe that these donations are essentially being made by the donors’ spouses and parents, which brings up the question– who does not want his company/business affiliation automatically linked with a political donation?

At any rate, this Thursday there will be a Campaign Fair at Hartford City Hall. You can meet various political candidates from Connecticut in the main atrium between 10 and 2; you know you’ll be there anyway, paying your taxes at the last minute. Might as well vent about it to current and future possible representatives.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
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