Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FALSE: Clinton Funded by "Grassroots"

The blatant distortions of reality put forth by the Clinton campaign are so offensive as to be laughable at times. In the victory speech of Hillary Clinton in South Carolina she spent a significant portion of it talking about how her campaign is financed by "grassroots".

Well, looking at the breakdown of funding for her campaign, only about 12% of her funds are from individuals contributing less than $200 while the vast majority of her funding (77%) is from individuals contributing $1000 or more.

If you are going to tell me that a movement is 77% funded by people giving $1000 or more is "grassroots", I am going to have to ask, "what grass are you smoking?" The only way you can call such a top-heavy movement "grassroots" is if you are growing grass in Koch brothers' back yard!

Obviously some small portion of the Clinton campaign is funded by small donors. However, for the campaign to misrepresent itself as "grassroots" powered by "small-donors" is frankly a complete falsehood especially when compared with a true grass roots funded campaign.

From the second graph we can see what a true "grassroots" campaign looks like. This is the Sanders campaign which has received only 10% of its total funds from individuals giving $1000 or more and 72% of its funds from people giving less than $200.

You might think that the Clinton campaign only looks bad when compared with publicly backed campaigns such as that of Bernie Sanders. However, this is not the case either. As I have noted previously, the Clinton campaign has far more big sponsors than all other candidates currently campaigning combined. And this is not counting the millions of funds paid into the Clinton Super-PAC.

But don't take my word for it. Run the analysis yourself.

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  1. Hello, I liked your analysis, BUT, please don't use pie charts!


  2. Especially don't use these pseudo-3D charts; although these particular examples do not distort the story, this is because of the symmetry in proportion between Clinton's big backers and Sanders's small ones, and the (mirror-image) foregrounding of the smaller slices.

    The blessed Edward Tufte would not approve ... There's a very interesting feature on Tufte here:


  3. I understand in general why people should avoid pie charts. However, this is a perfect example of how pie charts could be used effectively.

    And if you look at my nearly 400 posts you will find that this is probably the only instance by which I have ever used a pie chart to convey data information.

    Yet, there is a reason I chose to use a pie chart in this instance. The pie chart perfectly captures the information that I am trying to convey in an easily readable and easily remembered form.

  4. Looks like Pac Man eating pizza.

  5. You clearly understand that just because the donation amount is large (or small) does not imply that the person donating is richer (or poorer). Other than your eloquent "grass" argument, do you have any data to back this up? Perhaps Hillary's supporters feel more strongly to give more than Bernie's supporters, personal wealth controlled for?

    1. Of course I cannot match names with income and net assets as that information is not provided. However, I have been able to match zip code data with mean wealth and proportion of population whose income is over $200k and that data indicates that Clinton supporters on average come from areas which have about twice the number of people who make $200k+ as that of Sanders supporters. Of course, these populations are either 4% or 8% of the total so it requires yet another act of inference to assume that the supporters are sampled randomly from these populations.

      However, I would argue that you have to be pretty darn well off to to willing to give $1000+ to a presidential campaign.

      If you look back at this post:

      You can see that most of Hillary's $2700 backers wrote their checks very early in on the campaign season. I don't have a map for it published, but these big backers when mapped seem to come from some very expensive parts of the country to live such as Washington DC, LA, beachfront Florida, and New York.

      Perhaps I will work on that.