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NY Divide: Upper West Side for Obama, East Backs Romney

Campaign Donations from New York City
Aerial view of Manhattan. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

New York, New York, divided by two. The East Side’s red and the West Side’s blue.

Three zip codes on the east side of the New York City borough of Manhattan are among the most lucrative locations for Republican challenger Mitt Romney to raise campaign cash. Three zip codes on the west side are ranked as the top areas where President Barack Obama has collected money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations.

Obama has raised $1.7 million from three zip codes along the Hudson River, 10024, 10023 and 10011; Romney brought in $1.5 million from zip codes 10021, 10128 and 10065 along the East River. The president raised more money in total from New Yorkers than Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, $9.9 million compared with $8.2 million, according to the center.

“There are many more rich individuals on the East Side than on the West Side,” former New York Governor Mario Cuomo said.

Many of them work on Wall Street and are attracted to Romney’s background as a founder of the Boston-based private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC, said Representative Peter King, a Republican from the New York suburbs of Long Island.

“There’s real strong business support,” he said. “A lot of the big-money people are, or will be, supporting Romney.”

Palm Beach and Hollywood

Through Feb. 29, Obama raised $161 million for his campaign while Romney brought in close to $76 million, FEC reports show. Besides those in New York, residents of Palm Beach, Florida, and Greenwich, Connecticut, are among Romney’s most generous contributors. Obama’s most financially fertile non-New York zip codes include 90210 in Beverly Hills, California, plus areas of Chicago and the Washington, D.C. area.

New York’s East Side had traditionally been home to wealthy Republicans, while the West Side wasn’t as well-to-do and would back Democrats, said Alan Chartock, professor emeritus of political communication at the State University of New York in Albany.

“While the city has become more Democratic, some of that balance still exists,” Chartock said.

Still, those Republicans are less likely to be as motivated as their southern counterparts by such issues as opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage than they are by financial matters; indeed, the term “Rockefeller Republicans” comes from the Republican governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller. Former New York Mayor John Lindsay, who later became a Democrat and ran for president, once represented the area in the U.S. House.

Same Old Families

“You still have the same old-line Republican money, the same families probably,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents Manhattan’s West Side. “If Mitt Romney lived in Manhattan, he’d probably live on the East Side.”

The East Side has been represented in Congress by a Democrat, Carolyn Maloney, who ousted Republican Bill Green in 1992. She said there are plenty of other Democrats there as well. Obama raised $444,923 from East Side zip code 10021, about $155,000 less than Romney.

Contributors from that zip code include Romney backer Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP; and Marc Lasry, founder and partner of Avenue Capital Group and co-host of a New York City fundraiser earlier this month for Obama.

“The numbers are what they are but I believe the votes will be there for President Obama,” Maloney said.

Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat not seeking re-election, offered this observation about Manhattan’s “very diverse community” from the neighboring borough of Queens, which he represents.

“Some of these people should be voted off the island,” he said.

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