Analysis of daily contributions to 2020 presidential candidates, as of 2019 Q2
This repository contains data and code supporting a BuzzFeed News article examining donor frequency. Published July 17, 2019. See below for details.
data/candidates.csvcontains a list of high- and medium-profile Democratic presidential candidates (and primary campaign committees) for whom an "July Quarterly" filing was available on the FEC's website by 6:30am Eastern on July 16, 2019. (The filing deadline was July 15 at midnight.)
data/filings.csvcontains a list of basic metadata for the aforementioned filings.
data/filings/directory contains the raw filing data for each of those filings, in the FEC's
The Federal Election Commission filings do not contain any truly-unique identifiers for campaign contributors. So, in order identify donors who have given to multiple campaigns, BuzzFeed News constructed a
donor_id, created from the following fields:
- First name
- Last name
- 5-digit ZIP code
There are some limitations to this approach:
- If a donor changes their name, or misspells it occasionally, this approach will not cluster all of their contributions together
- If a donor moves to a new ZIP code, this approach will not cluster all of their contributions together
- If two or more donors in the same ZIP code share both a first and last name, this approach will assume (incorrectly) that they are the same person
For these reasons, the results of the analysis should be interpreted as approximations.
The $200 threshold
The Federal Election Commission does not require campaigns to itemize contributions from donors who have given $200 or less during a given campaign cycle. Some campaign committees have included such donors. Some democratic campaign committees seem to have done this because because they received overly large donations and then refunded a portion. For the sake of equal comparison, BuzzFeed News excluded contributions from donors whose aggregate was listed as $200 or less.
Contribution totals above legal limit
The FEC prohibits individual donors from giving more than $2,800 to any single committee. Even so, the data in the filings appear to indicate that some donors have given more than that amount. In some cases, this may be because the refunds have not yet been processed, or are declared elsewhere. Above-legal contributions have no effect on the analyses, which focus on the act of giving rather than how much money the campaigns have raised.
output/ directory contains two files that may be of interest to other journalists and researchers:
output/donors_per_day.csv is a spreadsheet containing the number of distinct donors per day, per candidate.
output/donors_per_day.png is a chart of small ultiples showing the number of distinct donors per day, per candidate.
The code running the analysis is written in Python 3, and requires the following Python libraries:
- pandas for data loading and analysis
- fecfile for parsing the raw FEC filings
- jupyter to run the notebook infrastructure
- matplotlib to print charts
If you use Pipenv, you can install all required libraries with
Executing the notebook in the
notebooks/ directory should reproduce the findings.
All code in this repository is available under the MIT License. Files in the
data/ directory are released into the public domain. Files in the
output/ directory are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
Questions / Feedback
Contact Scott Pham at email@example.com.
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