Friday, April 15, 2016

Fun Friday Data: Campaign Donations by Occupation

A few days ago, I stumbled upon another data set that was.. well a bit interesting.  It's a set of campaign finance filings made available by the Sunlight Foundation that include detailed information about the top 0.01% of donors to political campaigns.


The data isn't necessarily interesting from a big-data, predictive analytics perspective, but it's one of those data sets that can be cut and sliced all day long. It has some rich data fields, like "occupation" and percentages to Democrat and Republican.

It also has names, so I can figure out which rare Hollywood actors are Republicans (hint: Scott Baio).  The occupation data is self reported, so there are some value-density issues (some reported CEO, some Chief Executive Officer), I didn't go and fix those because this is just a fun project.

The two pieces of data below both focus the "Republican Ratio" (ratio of Republican to Democrat contributions) by occupation.  I calculated the ratio two ways: a weighted average (ratio of total contributions by profession) and an individual average (average of each contributors contribution ratio by profession.

The reason both ratios were necessary was that some very large donors had a tendency to skew the total contribution number.  Take for instance the "business executive" category below, the weighted average shows this as being a blue (Democrat-leaning) category, but we know most business people tend to contribute to Republicans.  When I dug in I found that most individuals in this category gave more money to Republicans, but the overall number was influenced by multi-million dollar democrat donations by one person: George Soros.

Some amusing findings:
  • "Homemakers" are the second largest group of donors and appear to be very Republican.  (Though this is likely many executives funneling money through their wives.  Federal election laws limit individual contributions, but a second person allows double the contribution.) 
  • C.E.O.'s are much more conservative than CEO's by either measure.
  • There are apparently some very generous "students" out there.  When I reviewed the list, the big donors here seem to be obviously college-aged children of rich people.  Again, federal campaign contribution limits are based on the individual (See Homemakers).
  • The most liberal groups with the high number of donors were: Professors, Artists, Writers and (cue the giggles from Republicans) "Not Employed."

That was the serious group of the top professions by number of contributors, now for the group of occupations that are amusing to me.  No data scientists were on the list, else I would be forced to include.  Also, the actor donations to Republicans is once again Scott Baio.


I find this data highly amusing, and it's fun to cut and play with.  If anyone has any ideas on different ways to cut this data, I can run it fairly quickly, however I probably won't put names on this blog to avoid doxing anyone.  Except Scott Baio, because he's a ridiculously bad actor.


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  4. When I dug in I found that most individuals in this category gave more money to Republicans, but the overall number was influenced by multi-million dollar democrat donations by one person: George Soros.
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