Political donors in Maine’s gubernatorial race most often work for [blank]

For contributors to Maine’s gubernatorial races, the most popular place to work is (drum roll)… nowhere. At least, that’s what we know from campaign finance disclosures.

Below is a look at campaign contributions to the three front-runners — through the last reporting period ended May 27 — by the “employer” field in the contribution disclosures (note that the category displaying “None” includes contributions where the employer field was left blank, or said “none” or “n/a”).

Updated: The view has been filtered from an earlier version to include only individual donors — PACs, political parties, etc., don’t have day jobs.

To get a better view on contributions outside of the “None” category, toggle that category from the view using the checkbox on the right:

The above view is subject to some data-entry error, given that each campaign may have people write or report their employer’s name differently. Add to that confusion across different campaigns. And that some people put their “employer” in the wrong field. To get closer to a clean data set, I ran the contribution data through OpenRefine, which helps point out data rows that likely refer to the same thing (law firms have particular prominence in this process).

Campaigns are to request specific information, like place of employment, only for contributors giving more than $50. Smaller donations can be bundled and reported as a lump sum. That makes impossible a look at the count of contributors giving more than or less than $50, but doesn’t prevent looking at small donations as a portion of the candidates’ total fundraising.

Not surprisingly, by cash on hand, the vast majority of the money raised by each candidate — each of whom surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark in the latest report — came from donations of more than $50.

In addition to these new views of campaign contributions, I’ve also updated the views that I first presented in late April, giving geographic and contribution-type breakdowns to the latest contribution data.

See the candidates’ total fundraising and a geographic breakdown, below, with Greater Portland still leading the way for fundraising:

Using the dropdown menu above to filter by candidate, you can get a look at where (by zip code) Republican incumbent Paul LePage, Democrat Mike Michaud and Independent Eliot Cutler raised their money. If you really want a comparison of top towns and cities, check out this view:

As before, here’s a look also at contributions by type for each candidate:

Here’s a look at overall contributions, broken out by campaign contributions the candidates’ received from in-state donors and out-of-state donors (a segue to the last visualization, I should mention):

As for that segue, here’s a look at out-of-state contributions by candidate and state:

I hope the visualizations here provide some discovery and insights. Please share any thoughts or discoveries below. I’d also be interested to hear your ideas on what could be added or modified in the visualizations to improve them.

I’ll continue to update this and similar charts throughout the campaign season. And if anyone’s interested in hearing about or talking about how jumbled the campaign finance reports are (and how cool OpenRefine is), I’m there.

Recommend this article
Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.