National Democrats have learned, to their chagrin, that 1 is indeed the loneliest number. That is to say, the top five Zip Codes donating to the Democratic Party in the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, all started with New York City’s telltale “1”—10021, 10022, 10023, 10024, and 10028. (They are also in the country’s top seven Zip Codes for expensive real estate in 2002, according to Forbes.)
Of course, no major party can afford to neglect such geographic concentrations of cash. But one former Kerry campaign aide says New York money often came attached with bad advice: “Fundamentally they think [President Bush] is stupid, and they can’t fathom how anybody in their right mind would vote for him. There is a real elitism that is very dangerous.”
Those Zip Codes are also prime recruiting grounds for the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, to be selected in February. Many are predicting the race could come down to a smackdown between the Upper West Side and the Upper East: power broker and Clinton consigliere Harold Ickes versus Howard Brush Dean III of Vermont by way of Park Avenue.
The reign of New York liberalism doesn’t end there, though. Much of the Democrats’ leadership talent is also a deep New York blue. Two of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate are Hillary Clinton of Chappaqua and Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn. Each has a 95 percent voting record from the liberal interest group Americans for Democratic Action; the average for a Democratic senator was 82.7 percent. Even the outgoing head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is Jon Corzine, from New Jersey, still a long way from the NASCAR and Wal-Mart sensibilities that so many Democrats struggle to understand. And of course, there’s also Bill Clinton, the last national Democrat to make significant inroads among voters in middle America, but who seems to have lost his red-state touch since moving north and befriending characters like Gotham-magazine scenester Jason Binn.
Ironically, some party insiders say the Democrats’ New York dilemma could be defused with more of a New York attitude. When the DNC chairman “calls someone on the Upper East Side for a $100,000 check,” one Democratic congressman says, “he also has to say, ‘With the check you don’t get to run the party.’ … These donors think they know what’s good for the Democrats. I’m not sure that’s the case.”