Mother Jones‘s Josh Harkinson dropped by Highland Park, which he dubs the “the most enthusiastically Republican enclave in the country” because 77 percent of all political donations there in 2010 went to GOP candidates and causes. Taken together, the 75205 zip code donates more money ($2.4 million) than “all but four other zips nationwide,” Harkinson reported. (Ross Perot’s children, the Hunt oil family, Robert Rowling, and Harlan Crow are all residents of this “affluent, insular, and intensely sure of itself” community.)
Why is all this wealth concentrated here? “It’s no secret why Highland Park attracts so many rich conservatives. It has a prime location near Dallas’ financial center and one of the lowest property tax rates in a state with no income tax. Yet it has one of the nation’s best school systems and an average emergency response time of 2.5 minutes,” he writes.
Harkinson, who grew up in Dallas, called Highland Park as “the red state counterpart, of, say, Berkeley” and to prove his point, he put together an impressive chart comparing the two well-off areas. He found some surprising similarities. Highland Park is the more affluent of the two zip codes, with an average income of $176,375 to Berkeley’s $128,466. Median home prices in Berkeley are $679,000 to Highland Park’s $715,100. In Highland Park, 12 percent of adults in do yoga, 15 percent play golf, and 13 percent buy organic. In Berkeley, 10 percent do yoga, 16 percent play golf, and 12 percent buy organic. Market researchers consider Highland Park’s “high income white families with $75k in stocks” to be “top rung” consumers whereas Berkeley’s “high income white families that listen to NPR” are “connoisseurs.”
(Highland Park is 94.4 percent white, according to the 2010 census. There were no black homeowners in the town until 2003, when Karen Watson moved there. Park Cities People, the community newspaper, penned a story on Watson’s move. The first line? “Guess who’s coming to dinner—and staying for awhile?”)
The biggest difference between the two zip codes that the chart highlights is party preference in political giving. While nearly 100 percent of Berkeley’s campaign donations went to Democrats, a full 87 percent of Highland Park donations went to Republicans. Highland Park also donated more, some $9.5 million from 2008 through 2010 versus only $2 million for Berkeley. (It’s also safe to say Berkeley has fewer Ferraris, though the chart does not get into that.)
Jason Heid is dismissive of the piece in a short item on D Magazine‘s Frontburner blog, saying the article contains “nothing that anyone familiar with ‘the Bubble’ doesn’t already know,” except for a detail on de facto segregation at the Dallas Country Club.