Thursday, February 25, 2016

Overwhelming Growth In National Support for Bernie Sanders Mapped

The FEC just released the most recent campaign contributor data and the results show a strong continued widespread growth in support for Bernie Sanders across the country.
Figure 1: A map of what counties and states support Bernie Sanders relative to that of Hillary Clinton in January 2016.
As of the end of January 2016, 88% of states have more reported contributions to the Sanders campaign than to the Clinton campaign.
Figure 2: A map of what counties and states support Bernie Sanders relative to that of Hillary Clinton in December 2015.
This is a significant growth from December which only reported 75% of states backing Sanders.
Figure 3: A map of what counties and states support Bernie Sanders relative to that of Hillary Clinton in November 2015.

Figure 4: Going back to June we can see that the vast majority of states primarily backed Hillary. Sanders was initially very poorly known outside of New England.

From the figures we can see that Nevada is the least supportive state among western states of Sanders while Iowa has been about equally favorably disposed to Sanders as surrounding states. The South continues to be the strongest region of the country supporting Hillary Clinton while the just about everywhere else is beginning to lean increasingly towards Sanders.

We should remember when looking at these maps that using itemized contribution data underestimates the number of individual contributors and contributions as only large donations need to be logged. Bernie Sanders has many more small contributors that are not individually reported than Hillary Clinton, constituting about 74% of his contributions while Hillary Clinton only has about 16% of her contributions too small to report.

The net result is that the reported data vastly underestimates the number contributors to the Sanders campaign relative to those of the Clinton campaign. This information does not capture the type of contributors to each campaign. Hillary Clinton has the largest portion of her funds coming from wealthy donors as any campaign. In fast she has more contributors giving the maximum allowable donation to her campaign than all other campaigns (including Republicans combined).

Figure 5: Histogram of contribution size. X-axis is the size of the contribution and the y-axis is the number of contributions for that candidate.
From Figure 5, we can see that Hillary Clinton has massively more large campaign contributions than all other candidates combined with a total of 23,620 campaign contributions of value $2700 or more compared with Sanders, Trump, Kasich, Ruz, Rubio, and Carson which collectively only have 13,339 contributions $2700 or more.

In contrast Sanders has raised the majority of his campaign funds from small donors. The amount raised by Sanders from non-itimized small donors is 67 millions which is 13 million dollars greater than the sum of all non-itimized contributions to Rubio, Cruz, Clinton, and Trump combined.

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  1. Nice maps, could you make an annimation? it would be great

  2. Funny that this growth has occurred since about the time I learned who Bernie Sanders was. Isn't calling it "overwhelming growth" a bit misleading? Clinton has been campaigning for president since two election cycles ago, right? So she's kind of a brand name and has her base supporters (and base contributions) already? This reminds me of those Comcast commercials when they added phone service. "We're the fastest growing phone service in America". Um, yeah, if you start from 0 of course your growth will be "faster" than established companies, that makes total sense. I'm not super well-versed in politics and contributions though, so perhaps I'm missing something. Neat graphs though.

    1. Hi Ed, thanks for writing. This is a very reasonable critique. I am afraid I did not go into nearly the detail explaining the process as I probably should have. Overall though, the long and short is that these numbers are cumulative rather than monthly.

      So the number of contributors whether 1 month ago or 1 year ago are counted equally in each graph. What is not counted is size of contributions. This would make it appear that Hillary is more strongly supported because the percent of itemized contributions are much greater for her than for Sanders.

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  3. I love your posts.
    Could you please fix the plots to use the viridis colors? (in R there is the "viridis" package for them).

    Thanks :)