- January 10, 2022 -
New Year, New Election Tools
Idaho’s new campaign finance and results apps, DKE’s district population redistribution and a searchable database of political emails
This week I’ve got a bevy of new election-related tools for you that have been rolled out recently, some by state governments, others by news and advocacy organizations and one by me. Enjoy!
Two New Idaho Searchable Databases
Idaho’s Secretary of State released a pair of tools at the end of December that should make it easier to get campaign finance information and election results data. The campaign finance app, called Sunshine, does a good job of providing real-time electronic filings from candidates and PACs. For example, here are the initial results from a search covering reports filing between Dec. 31 and Jan. 7:
That’s followed by a listing of the filings that can be sorted or downloaded to a CSV file for further exploration. As one user noted, there seems to be a limit on the number of rows you can export, but the search functionality is good enough that you can usually find what you’re looking for through the various drop-down filters. Another caveat is that Sunshine doesn’t go far back in time: the earliest data is from Jan. 1,
2020. But the timeliness of the more recent stuff - like the Federal Election Commission, Idaho requires that committees that receive contributions of at least $1,000 just before a primary or general election quickly report them - makes Sunshine a very useful tool for reporters, researchers and the public.
Canvass, the state’s new election results site, will be familiar to those who have used the results sites for Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia’s older elections. Previously, Idaho provided statewide and county-by-county precinct-level results in spreadsheet form, and the new site incorporates results back to 1990. If you want to explore the history of GOP gubernatorial primaries in the state, here’s the place to start.
Congressional District Redistribution Tables
The folks at Daily Kos Elections have begun releasing their tables showing how much of the population of newly-drawn congressional districts comes from existing districts. As an example, they show the results of the redistricting process in Oregon, which added a sixth district.
You can see that the 6th gets 60% of its population from the current 5th District, represented by Democrat Kurt Schrader, with the remainder from the 1st District represented by Democrat Suzanne Bonamici. The new 5th District has voters from each of the other current districts.
You can see movement between districts in states where the number of seats remains unchanged, such as Iowa. There, you can see the shift of people from the current 4th district to the new 3rd, for example:
DKE will be updating each state as it finishes redistricting in this Google sheet.
Search My Fundraising Emails, Please
The trouble I have in picking a political email of the week is that there are so many to choose from. So this might sound like a cop-out, but this week I’m letting you choose. This is very much a work in progress, but here’s a searchable database of the political emails that I’ve been getting over the past few years, more than 103,000 so far.
Of those, 43,000 are from last year, so there’s a lot of recent stuff, mainly from congressional and statewide candidates. They represent Democrats, Republicans, some third-party candidates and the occasional PAC or party committee (I need to sign up for more of those).
A few words of explanation: these emails have gone to the same GMail address, which I routinely plug into forms I find on candidate and committee sites. I use the name “Peter” for these, so you’ll see that in the subject line and body of the email on occasion. When the forms ask for location information (usually a zip code), I alternate between Pennsylvania and Florida, so this isn’t a scientific thing. You’ll also see some emails in there from some official domains (like whitehouse.gov) and from lists that I didn’t sign up for but was “added” to, including one called “Self Reliance Central” that provides information on topics including “wilderness survival, asset protection, privacy, health, food preservation, first aid, alternative life skills, understanding laws and regulations, or home maintenance.”
For those interested, here’s how I built this. First I did the Google Takeout process and downloaded the email data. Then I used this Python email analysis library to extract different parts of each message and save
the result as a CSV file. To publish the data and make it searchable I used the excellent Datasette and Heroku.
I plan on updating this every week, and now you can send me interesting emails that you find in the database, too.
How Much Voter Contact Does $6 Get You?
This isn’t a question I expected to actually consider, but check out this FEC filing from The Veterans Foundation PAC that details $6 in spending to benefit(?) the campaigns of Democrats Scott Peters of California and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. It’s a series of payments of exactly $0.50 to six different vendors for things described as “Leads / Phone Lists” and “Phonebank Payroll Services.” The $6 total is just an estimate, of course. The
PAC, which formed in late November, has some of the hallmarks of a scam PAC: vendors located either at single-family homes or post office box rental facilities, a website with little or no contact information and website text lifted from a Pew Research study without credit.
Elections Quick Hits
You Should Email Me
I know you are not just interested in elections but know a lot about them. I’d love to hear from you about what you like, what you don’t like and what you’d like to see in this newsletter. Email me at email@example.com or find me on Twitter @derekwillis.
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