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Tag Archive: data

The 1% of the 1% by state

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This table contains data on members of the 1% of the 1%, organized by state. For each column, the colors correspond to the size of the given indicator, with the darkest green referring to the ten states with the largest values, and the lightest green to the ten lowest. Click on a column name to re-sort the table by that column.

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The Political 1% of the 1% in 2012

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Graphics by Amy Cesal and Ben Chartoff


 

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In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
More than a quarter of the nearly $6 billion in contributions from identifiable sources in the last campaign cycle came from just 31,385 individuals, a number equal to one ten-thousandth of the U.S. population. In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, candidates got more money from a smaller percentage of the population than any year for which we have data, a new analysis of 2012 campaign finance giving by the Sunlight Foundation shows. These donors contributed 28.1 percent of all individual contributions in the 2012 cycle, a record high. One sign of the reach of this elite “1% of the 1%”: Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation’s 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined. This elite 1% of the 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reached new small donor frontiers (small donors are defined as individuals giving in increments of less than $200). In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase. The nation’s biggest campaign donors have little in common with average Americans. They hail predominantly from big cities, such as New York and Washington. They work for blue-chip corporations, such as Goldman Sachs and Microsoft. One in five works in the finance, insurance and real estate sector. One in 10 works in law or lobbying. The median contribution from this group of elite donors? $26,584. That’s a little more than half the median family income in the United States. Watch a video summary of The Political 1% of the 1%

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Two principles to avoid common data mistakes

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If David Brooks is correct, the “rising philosophy of the day” is “data-ism.” But you don’t have to believe David Brooks. Just look at the big data (e.g. Google Trends) on “big data.” For the political junkies, data became sexy in 2012. First, the New York Times’ Nate Silver’s meta-analyses of polling data triumphed over the pundits’ “gut feelings.” Second, the Obama campaign successfully used data analytics to increase voter turnout. This caused people to pay attention (witness, for example, David Brooks’ new devotion to the subject as prime column-fodder). Of course, for those of us in the transparency and accountability advocacy community, data has long been a prized commodity. And as governments around the world increasingly commit to open data promises, more and more data is becoming available. At its best, data allows us to transcend our personal anecdotal experiences, giving us the big picture. It allows us to detect relationships and patterns that we wouldn’t otherwise see. Using data smartly can help us to make better decisions about both our own lives and our society. But it’s important to understand that data and data analysis are merely tools. They can be used well, or they can be used poorly. It is remarkably easy both to mislead and to be misled by data. Hence the old adage: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” For many people, data can quickly overwhelm and confuse. It’s easy to misinterpret data, or to use it irresponsibly. We as humans are not particularly good at intuitively grasping large numbers, and our educational system generally does a poor job of helping us to counter this problem. For that reason, I want to offer two basic principles that I think could prevent a majority of the data mistakes that I observe:

  1. Cherry-picking works better with fruit than data
  2. Correlation provokes questions better than it answers them
Let’s go at these one at a time.

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Majority of states prohibit access to gun records

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(Updated 1/19 7:25 a.m.)

Following a New York newspaper's controversial decision to publish the names and address of local gun owners, state legislators are moving to make such information private, even as a Sunlight Foundation analysis shows that in a majority of states, the data are already off the public record.

Forty states plus the District of Columbia do not make data available about who owns a gun or has received a state permit to carry a gun, according to Sunlight's examination of state gun laws. There are ten states that do make data available ...

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FDLP Allergic to Curl

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Waldo Jaquith discovered that the FDLP (Federal Depository Library Program) appears to have an allergic reaction to people downloading their data with basic command line tools.

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CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) Today 59063

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