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"We need to incorporate communities of color into our electoral process, one which currently favors those with wealth over average citizens. A shift to a Clean Elections system such as in Arizona would ensure that all voters are an integral part of elections."
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva


For Immediate Release: October 12, 2004


White, Wealthy Neighborhoods Fill Their Election Coffers

Washington, DC…During the primary season, only 10% of the large individual contributions (more than $200) flowing to the Bush and Kerry campaigns, as well as most of the other major Democratic candidates for the presidency, came from neighborhoods where people of color are the majority, according to a new study, Color of Money: The 2004 Presidential Race, released by Public Campaign, the Fannie Lou Hamer Project, and the William C. Velasquez Institute. Nearly one out of three adult Americans is a person of color.

“Harlem can’t compete with the Upper East Side of Manhattan when it comes to campaign contributions,” said Carrie Bolton acting executive director of the Fannie Lou Hamer Project, commenting on the study. “Is it any surprise that critical issues affecting people of color and poor people are placed on the back burner by candidates?"

“Cash shouldn’t buy democracy—people and their votes are what should matter,” says Antonio Gonzalez, executive director of the William C. Velasquez Institute. “We need comprehensive campaign finance reform to empower Latinos and other people of color, because we all deserve an equal helping of democracy.”

Major findings of the study include:

  • Of all the major candidates, President George W. Bush raised the lowest percentage of campaign money from neighborhoods where people of color are the majority, 8.3%, while Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) raised 10.7%. Overall, Democratic candidates collected 11.4% of their $200+ individual contributions from these neighborhoods.
  • In sharp contrast, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) and Rev. Al Sharpton raised triple the proportion of their campaign contributions from majority people of color neighborhoods—37.5% and 36.2%, respectively.
  • The top contributing zip code to all presidential campaigns—including both the Bush and Kerry campaigns—was 10021, on Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side, which was the source of $4.2 million. President Bush and Sen. Kerry collected 71% of this amount, $1.3 and $1.7 million respectively.
  • 86.4% of the zip code’s 91,514 adult residents are non-Hispanic white, and nearly 40% of the households enjoy incomes of $100,000 or more.
  • In contrast, the zip code 10035, just a few miles away in Harlem, was the source of just $1,000 and $2,750, respectively, for Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and Sen. Kerry.
  • The zip code 10021 was the source of more campaign cash for presidential campaigns than:
    • 377 zip codes nationwide with the largest percentage of African Americans, containing a total of 6.9 million people ages 18 and over, 75 times more people than live in 10021;
    • 365 zip codes nationwide with the largest percentage of Latino Americans, containing a total of 8.1 million people ages 18 and over, 89 times more people than live in 10021.

Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign, said, “Our presidential election system is based on a private funding system rooted in inequality. We need to make sure that candidates who don’t have access to Beverly Hills mansions and Manhattan penthouses have a equal chance to compete in political campaigns.”

The 24-page report, Color of Money: The 2004 Presidential Race accompanies the interactive website, www.colorofmoney.org, where users can conduct their own research on campaign money, race/ethnicity, and income in their own communities, looking up information about their state, city, and zip code for all of the 2004 major presidential candidates, as well as viewing color maps of presidential fundraising by President Bush and Senator Kerry in selected metropolitan areas. The study examines contributions of more than $200 collected by the major 2004 presidential candidates as reported to the Federal Election Commission through July 31. These data are compared with U.S. 2000 Census information by zip code on race, ethnicity, and income of people ages 18 and over.

Clean Money, Clean Elections campaign systems are the law for statewide elections in Arizona and Maine, and are partly in place in New Jersey, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Vermont. Under Clean Money campaign reform, candidates who collect a large number of small qualifying contributions (typically $5), voluntarily agree to limit their spending and to reject campaign contributions from private sources can qualify for full public financing for their campaigns. Primaries are covered as well as general elections, opening up the possibility for real competition within the parties. Additional funds are also made available, up to a limit, if a Clean Money candidate is outspent by a privately financed opponent.

# # #

Campaign finance data analyzed in this report were provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to analyzing campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Data for the 2004 election cycle were downloaded in August 2004, and reflect July 31 reports by candidates to the FEC.

The methodology used in this report for determining the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population was developed by Dr. John R. Logan at the Lewis Mumford Center at the University of Albany. Dr. Brian Stultz, of the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida-Gainesville, provided much valuable help. The Lewis Mumford Center has published dozens of reports on segregation and racial and ethnic patterns throughout America (http://mumfordl.dyndns.org/cen2000/report.html).

Public Campaign (www.publicampaign.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to sweeping reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.

The Fannie Lou Hamer Project (www.flhp.org) is a national education and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening our democracy through bringing justice and equity to the campaign finance system.

The William C Velasquez Institute (www.wcvi.org) is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts research aimed at improving the level of political and economic participation in Latino and other underrepresented communities.

The Color of Money Project was made possible by funding from the Ford Foundation and the Joyce Foundation.

Past Press Releases

December 11, 2003: THE REAL COLOR OF MONEY: White, Wealthy Neighborhoods Source of Most Campaign Contributions People of Color Largely Left Out of the Money Game

Statements on Unveiling of the Web Site, December 11, 2003

Nick Nyhart, Executive Director, Public Campaign

Stephanie Moore, Executive Director, Fannie Lou Hamer Project

Antonio Gonzalez, President, William C. Velasquez Institute

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