Weston residents biggest political donors in Mass.

Wealthy suburb tops on per capita basis; Boston biggest overall

THE MOST GENEROUS political donors in Massachusetts state and municipal campaigns last year, perhaps unsurprisingly, tend to live in some of the wealthiest communities in the state.

In its spring newsletter, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance put out a list of per-capital political spending from every city and town in the state ranked from most to least. It is the first year OCPF has put out this type of data, which does not cover candidates who file with town clerks for such local offices as select board and school committee.

Weston was at the very top. Its 11,261 residents – as measured by the 2010 US Census – gave $374,647 in 2018, which averages out to $33.27 per person.

The state average is $4.91 per capita, and in more than 30 Bay State municipalities the per capita state and local political contribution last year was less than $1.

Weston residents shelled out even more in federal races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs the website OpenSecrets.Org for tracking political spending and influence. The $4 million that Weston residents donated in 2018 federal races is 38 times as much as the federal donations from the average area around the country as demarcated by zip code.

The next four slots for per-capita state and local political giving last year are occupied by Dover, Cohasset, Winchester and Swampscott, where Gov. Charlie Baker lives.

The data compiled by OCPF tracks individual contributions to political candidates, not business donations to ballot campaigns or other types of political giving.

Boston ranked number 30 on the list of per-capita political giving, but with its roughly $6.9 million in total donations, the amount of campaign cash flowing from the state’s largest city dwarfs all others. The state and local political spending from Bostonians accounts for about one-fifth of all the 2018 spending tracked by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The next city in the ranking of overall donations tracked by OCPF was Newton, whose residents donated $1.4 million to state and local campaigns last year. Newton also ranked number seven in terms of per capita political giving as its residents shelled out $16.90 on average to state and local races. Cambridge was third in terms of total giving as Cantabrigians donated $874,711 to political campaigns.

While Worcester is the second largest city in the state, it ranks number six in overall political contributions tracked by OCPF, and Worcester’s per capita contributions are number 175 on the list. Springfield, the state’s third largest city, was 17th in terms of political giving, putting it behind the suburban towns of Hingham, Lexington and Milton in overall contributions. Springfield residents gave about $2 on average, putting the city behind 249 other municipalities in terms of per capita political donations.

Meet the Author

Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Many Gateway cities, where the needs of government are often great, had some of the lowest per capita donations in the state. Lawrence and Brockton residents donated about $1.50 on average, and Chicopee residents donated an average of 91 cents each.

Residents of Munroe, in the northwest corner of the state, and Gosnold, which includes the island of Cuttyhunk, made no state political donations, according to the state campaign finance office.