It's difficult to draw broad conclusions about what drives the political beliefs of such a small group, but their personal experiences may hold a clue. Two of the Sanders supporters on Wall Street work in wealth management — where their jobs necessarily include helping rich people get richer. One holds a position whose purpose appears to be minimizing taxes on hedge funds and alternative investments, based on his LinkedIn description. Some have personal connections to Sanders' home state of Vermont.
Working in an industry where rank-and-file employees and executives overwhelmingly support other candidates, it's perhaps not surprising that the Sanders supporters on Wall Street are reluctant to speak publicly about their political views. "I appreciate your call and the story, but I would rather not participate," said one when contacted by CNBC.
One Sanders supporter explained that he grew up in Vermont, and has fond memories of Sanders campaigning across the state. "Bernie was such a fixture of Vermont politics for many years, so I sort of have a soft spot in my heart for him," this supporter said. And although he contributed to the Sanders campaign, he added that he's not committed to actually voting for Sanders. "I don't know at the end of the day if I would vote for him," he said. "I grew up wearing Bernie T-shirts my dad gave me."
Still, the supporter does not see any irony in Wall Street executives supporting a self-declared democratic socialist. "You've got Warren Buffett — one of the wealthiest people in the country — and he's out there supporting raising taxes and the things that Bernie talks about," he said.
Meredith Burak said her family has known and supported Sanders since he first ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1980 — before she was born. But she cites a more recent development — the financial crisis of 2008 — as driving her support for Sanders.
"His issue is if you look at the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, no one at the top has been brought to court or indicted," she said. "Compare that to this whole generation of African-American and Latino kids who are put in the jail system for having a little bit of pot. There's something wrong there. People need to be held accountable."