ITHACA, N.Y. — Sen. Bernie Sanders (D—Vt.) has raised about three times as much money from Ithaca residents than any other presidential candidate to date, according to federal records.

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Similarly, Sanders has also had about four times as many individual donors in the 14850 zip code than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely considered the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, the records say.

Here’s a chart we put together with data from the Federal Elections Commission:

Sanders’ campaign announced Wednesday that it has received $26 million since July — more than President Barack Obama “took in for the comparable period in 2007,” according to The New York Times.

“Sanders was initially dismissed by political insiders as a fringe candidate running only to push Hillary Rodham Clinton to the left. But he has now demonstrated that he has the resources and the supporters, whom he has only begun to tap financially, to compete for the Democratic presidential nomination,” says today’s report from The Times’ Patrick Healy.

Ithacans account for a very small portion of that $26 million. But insofar as local residents have felt compelled to donate to a presidential candidate, they’ve chosen Sanders: About 70 percent of all presidential campaign donations from within the city have gone to Sanders.

Bernie Sanders leads in political donations among Ithacans, according to federal elections records.

Clinton, who was also a senator from New York, has received about 14 percent of the donations from Ithaca. That gap is likely at least part a reflection of what political observers call an “enthusiasm gap” between Clinton and much of the party’s left flank, which has been more likely to support Sanders.

Six people in Ithaca have also donated to Republican presidential candidates: four have given a combined $450 to Sen. Marco Rubio (R — Fla.); one has given $4,000 to former Gov. Jeb Bush (R — Fla.); and another person in Ithaca has given $250 to Sen. Ted Cruz (R — Tx.).

Locally organizing for Sanders

Sanders’ fundraising edge in Ithaca lines up with the observations of Becky Chambers Hennessy, a member of the group “Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders.”

“I see the sheer excitement for him,” says Chambers Hennessy, who added she is one of about 20 people devoting several hours of work every week to propelling Sanders’ candidacy. “I get excited and I find myself thinking — we all do — of ways we can extend our reach.”

Photo of a Hillary Clinton campaign event on Roosevelt Island in NYC

This week, Chambers Hennessy says she is planning on going to different businesses on the Ithaca Commons and asking them to donate to Sanders’ candidacy or put a banner on their storefronts expressing their support.

She said there’s a lot of excitement for Sanders on the Cornell campus and that there’s a focus right now on making sure voters meet the Oct. 9 deadline to register for the Democratic primary.

In addition to the FEC data, Chambers Hennesy says $2,463 has been raised for local efforts to help Sanders and an additional $1,960 has been raised locally to be given to the national campaign for their use. 

“Ithaca is an island — a very liberal one. And I think the things you’d assume about Bernie and Ithaca are true,” she said.

Ithaca’s liberal bent

As part of this story, we wanted to look back at which candidates Ithacans have supported in the past.

This fall, the Ithaca area broke by a surprisingly large margin for gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, who launched a bid to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Teachout won 70 percent of the vote in Tompkins County to less than 30 percent for Cuomo, who was considered to Teachout’s right. The election results across the state were largely flipped, with Cuomo taking the primary with more than 60 percent of the vote.

What about past presidential candidacies? The FEC gives data that’s easy to download, and so we’ve formatted in the charts below.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.