Digital Mapping, Campaign Contributions, and... Jimmy Buffet?

The Internet has brought down many of the barriers involved in obtaining public information, particularly in the realm of politics. Information on campaign contributions, election results and other public information from the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies--once only accessible to politicians, journalists and grad students- -is now available to anyone with an Internet connection. Powerful web applications such as Google Maps allow this public information to be displayed in an intuitive and interactive manner, making it simple to answer those burning questions such as “What are the political leanings of the new city I just relocated to?” or “Is my boss as conservative in his politics as he is with my paycheck?” and “Which political campaigns did Jimmy Buffet donate to this year?”

Google provides a good starting point when looking for this type of information, as many sources utilize Google’s mapping technology. Google Maps has a portal devoted entirely to this year’s election, with links to various election related maps. A primary results map breaks down all of the recent primary elections by each party, as well as by state and county. By clicking a desired location you can find out what percentage of people in your chosen county voted for Obama, as well as what regions picked Huckabee (remember him?) over McCain.

For an even more local approach, there is Huffington Post’s Fundrace website (which you can view on Google’s election portal as well, but without the snazzy search features available directly through HuffPost). Fundrace, which first appeared during the 2004 election cycle, divulges public information on campaign contributions over $200, allowing you to search for anyone by name or address. This means you can see the major campaign contributions of everyone in your neighborhood (which could potentially avert any awkward conversations at your local block party this summer), and lets you investigate the contributions of specific people (who knew Uncle Seymour was really a bleeding heart liberal all along?).

Tools like Fundrace are interesting because they provide a vast wealth of knowledge and provide a snapshot of the country in a way that was once available only to a select few. As a tool, Google Maps is exciting because it invites users to create their own maps, using whatever datasets they have access to (in addition to the vast array of features, including Street View, traffic predictions and walking directions, that Google has already developed). Tools like this help to add transparency to the political process, as well as democratize freely available information.

On a side note--Jimmy Buffet has contributed to the campaigns of Wesley Clark, Bob Graham and Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania’s 7th District (my home district).


Subscribe to NuWire's free weekly investment newsletter:
Your information will not be shared


Post a Comment


© 2012 NuWire Investor and NuWire, Inc. All Rights Reserved.