Visualizing the 2012 presidential campaign finance

Total Contributions by State to Political Action Committees (PACs) 2011-2012

Average Contribution by State to PACs (2011-2012)

Percent of Contributions for Top 10 Committees

The Ten Wealthiest PACs

The richest 20% committees have 90% of all donations.

This chart looks at the top 10% committees only. The top 2% have 60% of the wealth

Super PACs Contributions Master Table

Characterizing Contributions to Super PACs in 2011 and 2012

The bubbles above explain almost all the notable information that jobs and states of residence have on donation amount. If one only used the shown job categories and states to characterize donations, and set everyone else’s donation to the overall average (top left bubble), one would explain about 70% of all the variation in donation amounts. Furthermore, there is no job / state combination remaining that would improve this number by more than .1%.

Source: Federal Election Commission (FEC)
Last transaction date for our data is Feb 27, 2012.

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    First of all, is it really fair to eaqtue union influence with corporate influence? It’s an honest question. I realize that the money-in-politics people talk about both to convey non-partisanship, but I have the sense that the numbers aren’t really comparable when you add up donations plus lobbying plus PAC$ plus trade associations (e.g. Chamber of Commerce and associations by industry) plus whatever else. We should chat some day about some of the practical ways that interest groups influence policy-making. As a former congressional staffer and a current public interest policy advocate, I have observed so many forms of influence that might not be captured by spending records. Including the fact that Congressional staff are generally young, inexperienced, and have enormous portfolios (mine included all economic and foreign policy, including tax, trade, labor, immigration, egypt, colombia, france, ukraine, foreign aid, etc.). It isn’t possible to develop expertise on all of the issues you’re responsible for keeping the Member abreast of, so staffers rely heavily on interest groups to tell them what’s what, often even getting them to write legislation, statements, etc. Then there’s constituent organizing, when outside groups organize constituents to call and write in to Members of Congress. Those campaigns cost money, but the influence of constituent calls might not be listed in campaign spending records.As far as your questions about research, seems to me your colleagues at open secrets and maybe at public citizen would be great people to talk to, but I imagine you’re already doing that. Charlie Cray is a name that sticks in my mind as a possible resource. He has done investigative research on specific companies.

    May 4, 2012 Reply

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