Contributions by Ken Blake / MTSU Associate Professor of Journalism
Three wealthy Middle Tennessee zip codes have supplied nearly one-third of all the cash that individual donors have given to the two candidates vying for Tennessee’s open U.S. Senate seat, an analysis of federal donation records shows.
The analysis of Federal Election Commission data as of July -the most recent available- found that Belle Meade (37205), Forest Hills (37215) and Brentwood (37027) account for 31.5 percent of all the money given as itemized individual contributions, which indicates money given from individual donors. All three cities are clustered south of Nashville and considered to be among the most upscale communities in the area.
Belle Meade donations totaled $620,730, $421,185, or 68 percent of which went to Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen. Most of the $653,631 donated by Forest Hills residents also went to Bredesen: $372,212, or 57 percent.
Republican Marsha Blackburn, meanwhile, took in $304,101 of the $381,706 given by Brentwood residents, or about 80 percent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is $195,208 in Belle Meade, $188,867 in Forest Hills, and $148,340 in Brentwood. For comparison, the median household income for Murfreesboro is estimated to be $53,241. All of these statistics come from data gathered from 2012 to 2016.
Across Tennessee, there are eight zip codes that donated more than $100,000. All are clustered around Nashville, except for one that is south of Knoxville. Refer to the map below for more details.
According to Kent Syler, a professor of political science at MTSU and former manager of Congressman Bart Gordon’s first campaign, “Those are very wealthy, influential, active in politics, and educated areas.”
“The donations tell you that the Democrats have more energy this time than before,” Syler said. “It also tells that they have good quality candidates.”
Additionally, the most recent primary election poll results show Phil Bredesen with 91.5 percent of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate Tennessee votes while Marsha Blackburn holds 84.5 percent of the Republican votes.