The City of Ithaca’s zip code, 14850, ranks eighth on the list of United States zip codes giving most generously to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vt.) presidential campaign, according to a USA Today report based on Federal Election Commission data through Jan. 31.
This generosity is largely due to grassroots efforts, Ithaca’s liberal nature and unprecedented enthusiasm from residents, according to local activists.
The report said that 14850 is a top donor zip code to the Sanders campaign — behind cities such as Burlington, Vt., San Francisco, Calif., New York, N.Y. and Seattle, Wash.
Cornell Student Involvement
William Bristow ’16, president of Cornell Democrats, said he believes that among Cornellians, support for Sanders is greater than support for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Sen. Sanders has received a great deal of support from young voters, and that seems to be the case here at Cornell,” Bristow said.
However, he said he believes Democrats in the Ithaca community favor Sanders more than the Cornell student body does.
“While there is no doubt that Sanders has a great deal of support locally, it appears that the Cornell student body is more divided between the two candidates,” Bristow said.
The enthusiasm of local residents may mean that Ithaca residents make up a larger share of Ithacan donors to the Sanders campaign than students do, according to Bristow.
“I do know of several students who have donated to Sen. Sanders,” he said. “However, I think it’s likely that Ithaca residents make up the overwhelming majority of his donors in the area.”
Donald Bazley, a volunteer for the Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders Campaign, agreed that local Ithacans make up the base of Sanders support in Ithaca. The majority of early involvement in the campaign came from people over 40, according to Bazley.
“I believe that most of the support coming from Ithaca is actually coming from Ithaca residents as opposed to students and professors,” he said. “There may be many faculty behind Bernie, but I also think that many faculty are a part of what I call the ‘establishment left’ and supporting Clinton.”
Members of the Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders Campaign, as well as the Ithaca branch of the Democratic Socialists of America for Bernie Sanders Campaign, said levels of local activism were partially responsible for Ithaca’s large number of donations.
“Through the summer and into the early fall, we concentrated on voter registration literature, informing people they would have [to] be registered in the Democratic party of be a part of the primary process,” said Theresa Alt, a member of the Ithaca Branch of the DSA for Bernie Sanders.
Alt added that high levels of activism among Sanders voters encourages people to donate.
“[Asking for donations was] not our major focus, although I am sure every time we reminded people of Bernie, some people went to the website,” she said. “The effect of seeing a lot of activity leaves people more inclined.”
Kris Hodges, a volunteer for Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders campaign, said she believes an outpouring of support for Sanders’ campaign has come from Ithacans because of the city’s liberal nature.
“There are probably a little more progressive types of folks around here, [due in part to] the nature of being a college town,” Hodges said.
Many activists said that Sanders’ campaign has seen an unprecedented level of involvement from Ithaca residents.
“The level of passion I see behind Sanders today is something I have never seen in my lifetime, and I am 51,” Bazley said.
Alt added that among Ithaca Democratic Socialist of America movements, working for Sanders’ campaign is the most energized she has ever seen activists.
“There were a couple of previous peaks of excitement: the Jesse Jackson campaign of 1988, and in 1992 to 1993, the fight for single payer health insurance when we ended up with nothing,” Alt said. “There was a lot of excitement then, but nothing as big as this.”
Hodges agreed that supporters are “really revved up about Bernie, to the point that they are willing to do what they can — in any way that they can — to help him out.”
“So some people can’t give their time, so they give money. Some people can do both, some people don’t have money so they give their time,” Hodges said. “My sense is that there is much more enthusiasm and willingness to participate than during our activism during the Obama campaign.”