Introducing Richmond Confidential’s Campaign Finance Explorer

on October 18, 2010

In an effort to shed light on the upcoming mayoral contest, Richmond Confidential and the UC Berkeley Visualization Lab have created an interactive tool that lets readers examine the candidates’ finances.

Although political contributions are public record and this data is available online, it takes time and effort to troll through a candidate’s filings.

Our Campaign Finance Explorer is designed to level the playing field. It allows viewers to compare candidates, spot patterns, and post their discoveries straight to Facebook.

In the Explorer, readers can follow the money in a number of ways. When the “Individuals” filter is clicked, only donations from individuals appear. When “Others” is clicked, the graph displays data about donations from businesses, political action committees and unions. Readers can also see how much money came from outside of Richmond by clicking the “Elsewhere” button. And at the top of the graph, viewers can cycle through the different tabs to look at the number of donors each candidate has.

We hope our readers will make the most of this tool, and learn more about the serious money it takes to get elected in Richmond.

Many thanks to Wesley Willett and Maneesh Agrawala of the UC Berkeley Department of Computer Sciences, and the Knight Digital Media Center’s Len De Groot for getting this project up and running.

Here are some findings to get you started:

—Almost half of all contributors list addresses outside of Richmond.
—Although councilmember Nat Bates ($65,149) raised four times as much as mayor Gayle McLaughlin ($15,183) this quarter, he only has 20 more donors than she does.
—The average donation to McLaughlin was about $296; for Ziesenhenne, it was about $589; and Bates’ average contributor gave about $958.

Please comment and let us know if the Campaign Finance Explorer is useful to you.

Launch Interactive|Campaign Finance Explorer

2 Comments

  1. Shelby on October 19, 2010 at 9:23 am

    We need this for every city. Start with San Pablo which is much like Bell as to socio-economics. Thanks for this site. The necessary corrections needed in this country will come from the bottom and efforts like yours.
    Shelby



  2. mike on October 21, 2010 at 9:00 am

    This is super important stuff … can you add a link that shows where you got the data? I (and probably others) would be interested in see any data — even piles of unwieldy raw data — on other cities in Contra Costa County.



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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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