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Contrarian donors sail against prevailing political wind
It’s lonely being a supporter of President Obama in Provo, Utah. In the past several months, locals have given $550,000 to the two presidential campaigns, but only $29,000 — 5.3 percent — has gone to the Democrat.
“It’s so ingrained in the culture to just fit in,” said Nathan Bell, a firing-range employee who has given $603 to Mr. Obama.
Provo is a university town, and that usually spells friendly territory for Democrats — but in this case it’s home to the deeply conservative Brigham Young University, where Mr. Bell’s father teaches. “At first, it was a little bit of rebellion, but over time it just became a thinking-for-myself mentality,” the younger Mr. Bell said.
Pronounced giving patterns in red states tend to be reversed in deep blue states, federal records show. In fact, no state’s communities are more united against Mitt Romney than in Massachusetts, with his Boston campaign headquarters nestled deeply in enemy territory. Some cities in the state where Mr. Romney served as governor from 2003 to 2007 give 96 percent of their campaign dollars to his opponent.
That is the case for residents of greater Pittsfield, Mass., a community on the state’s western border: More than 600 residents gave $280,000 to Mr. Obama, and 25 gave $13,000 to Mr. Romney.
Pittsfield and Provo are among the many enclaves where one of the candidates dominates in the money chase, which usually signals a big discrepancy in voting support, too.
An analysis by The Washington Times of campaign contributions suggests that there are far more Obama-backing communities than Romney regions.
Mr. Obama had more $200-plus donors than Mr. Romney in 300 of the 350 areas where at least 100 people have donated since May.
Thanks to larger donations, Mr. Romney received more money from nearly 200 of those areas from May through August, but Mr. Obama’s repeat donors overcame that disparity: When previous donations from people who gave money during that period are included, Mr. Obama still collected more money from 215 of the 350 communities.
Another of the most Obama-friendly communities in the United States also has Romney family ties.
Nearly 2,000 people in Ann Arbor, Mich., have given to the presidential candidates, and 91 percent of those have given to Mr. Obama, even though Mr. Romney’s father was governor of the state and the Republican candidate was born in the state.
Bernie Donkerbrook, a 66-year-old retiree who gave $250 to Mr. Romney, can’t escape the liberals — not even in his home, where his wife is a “hard-core Democrat.” His political views are just part of what lends him a contrarian streak that gives him pleasure.
“Ann Arbor is a chronically historical bastion of liberal policy. It’s a huge college town, with the University of Michigan, and lots of academics are classically liberal. I’ve been here for 17 years and not only am I conservative, but I went to Michigan State rather than University of Michigan, and I take great pride in wearing Michigan [State] green,” he said.
Attempting to sway his neighbors would have little effect, he said, which is why he expresses his political views through his checkbook.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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