Tracking Campaign Finance — and More

Part of a series on how databases can add value to daily news stories. 

Have you heard the political drumbeat?  The national presidential race appears down to two contendors.  U.S. Senate campaigns are likely in full swing. And in some states, the politicing may be ongoing in state or local races, as well.  So campaign finance databases can be of great help in stories, and not just those about politics.  You can use them to:

  • find key contributors
  • track the industries supporting certain candidates
  • check candidate expenditures
  • check candidate and/or donor addresses
  • find interviewees who have an informed opinion on the race (because they’ve donated)

To underscore the latter point, it’s not just political stories where you can use this database. Sometimes hard to find a supporter of Candidate X, or someone from one of the alternative political parties.  To find those interviewees,  search for  donors to that candidate or donors to a previous candidate from that lesser-known party.

For federal campaigns, I recommend these two websites:

With a hat tip to news librarians MargotWilliams, Leigh Montgomery and Derek Willis , I also found some master sites that link to all state campaign finance reports by state. Some of the links I tested aren’t updated, so if you can’t find your state,  I would go to the state website, find the elections unit and go from there.

The latter is an amazing site and I got lost in wonder for 20 minutes!  So when you have an extra 20, take a look and learn it so when you need it in a pinch, you are already familiar with it.

This entry was posted in Backgrounding for News Stories, Databases. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply