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Advanced Campaign Finance Search With Raw Data

Once you've gotten the hang of Influence Explorer, take it to the next level. Go pro by clicking the "data" tab and digging into the raw data and spreadsheets. This tutorial walks you though the nitty gritty. In a previous module we showed how you can get information on campaign finance with Influence Explorer. Now we’ll demonstrate some deeper dives for those of you who want to work with the raw data yourselves. Geek-out warning: Extremely detailed explanations below. But once you are done with this module, you will be a certified campaign finance expert!

Let’s head over to InfluenceExplorer.com and get started.

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Go to the “Search the Database” tab. Notice that the default is campaign finance searches. You can use the menu at the left to switch to other datasets. We’ll show you how to work with them in another module.

For now, let’s stay with campaign finance searches. The drop-down menus make it easy to narrow your search to find exactly the data you’re looking for. For example, let’s say we want to search for campaign contributors to John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, but we want to find only those contributors from Boehner’s home state, Ohio, and only during the 2011-2012 campaign cycle. Here’s how we’d do that:

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Decoding the Data Spreadsheet

Once the spreadsheet has downloaded to your computer, open it in Excel or other compatible programs. Doing so reveals additional columns than the Influence Explorer preview showed. We’ll walk you through the spreadsheet in the next video, and because the information is detailed we’ve included a cheat sheet with screenshots.

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Whew! Take a minute to decompress!

That completes our dive into Influence Explorer’s campaign finance database. Armed with this knowledge, your explorations will be limited only by your imagination. Check back with us for more training on how to use the rest of Influence Explorer’s datasets on lobbying, earmarks, federal contracts, contractor misconduct and more. Happy diving!