Visualizing Portland Position # 2

Chris Smith

Be careful what you ask for. I was intrigued by the maps produced by Amanda Fritz' campaign showing where her contributions came from versus her opponent's. Intrigued enough to offer in a comment to do something similar if Erik Sten's campaign would come up with a spreadsheet of their contributions.

They came through, which explains why I spent a sunny Sunday typing in Ginny Burdick's contributions (my fingers are fortunate she gets her money in large chunks)...

I added a few twists with Google Maps. The size of the marker is proportional to the size of the contributions from that address (multiple contributions are combined for this purpose). A $5 VOE qualifying contribution casts a shadow about the size of a house lot. Also, for any address with greater than $1K in contributions, there's a data marker you can click on to get the details.

The results are visually stark: Ginny has a clear "ground zero" at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. But more surprising perhaps is an east-west divide. While Erik has contributors from all over the city, there is clear concentration on the east side. Ginny is almost exclusively getting her funds from the west side.

Maybe Erik Sten is the real Eastside Guy? (Yes, Dave Lister, if you send me a spreadsheet, I'll plot yours too.)

So here goes. Warning, clicking one of the links below WILL STRESS YOUR WEB BROWSER. There are a lot of data points, so don't call me if your browser slows to a crawl or crashes! I had the best luck with Firefox, and noticed that IE does some strange renderings until you zoom in. There are three maps:

I know Amanda is out there asking "why didn't he show the neighborhood boundaries?" I've asked the City for the geometry files for these. If I can get them integrated, I'll post an update...

Comments

  • no one in particular (unverified)
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    Shouldn't Sten have a huge $150K dot centered at City Hall?

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    No, he should have a tiny <$1 dot for every taxpayer in the city.

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    Chris Smith May 1, 2006: No, he should have a tiny <$1 dot for every taxpayer in the city. JK : Then shouldn't Burdick get a tiny dot for every PGE stockholder instead of one big dot at PGE HQ? Same for every Quest stockholder. Same for all corporate contibutions which are the same involuntary contibutuons as the voter owned elections.

    Thanks JK

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    Jim, you're probably right. We should be plotting a big dot in Houston for Ginny at Enron's HQ. That's where more than half of PGE's stock is owned.

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    Just a note of clarification - I don't think Ginny has gotten any money from PGE/Enron just yet....

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    Oops... I got baited didn't I :-)

    Kari is correct. Of course the rest of the utilities: Qwest, Comcast and NW Natural are all there.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    It's not surprising that Ginny's donors are clustered in or near her Senate district, right? Those are the people who've given her money in the past.

    Or am I wrong about the boundaries of her Senate district?

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    Jesse, you're correct that Ginny's Senate district includes downtown, but that's where the similarity ends. Here are all contributors $1000 or above from her 19942004 Senate campaign. It's a VERY different list from the Council race:

    DOCTORS FOR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES ($7500) OREGON MEDICAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($4000) CREDIT UNION LEGISLATIVE ACTION FUND ($2000) DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA, INC ($2000) OREGON AFSCME COUNCIL 75 ($2000) OREGON CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS LEGISLATIVE ACTION COMMITTEE ($2000) OREGON SOFT DRINK POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($2000) PHILIP MORRIS USA INC/ALTRIA ($2000) CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF THE GRAND RONDE ($1500) FORESIGHT OPHTHALMOLOGY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($1500) OREGON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($1500) SCHNITZER INVESTMENT CORP ($1500) AGC COMMITTEE FOR ACTION ($1000) AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION DIVISION 757 LEGISLATIVE FUND ($1000) BANK OF AMERICA PAC (FEDERAL PAC) ($1000) FARMERS GROUP INC ($1000) GLAXO SMITH KLINE ($1000) HumaneUSA PAC ($1000) ICE PAC ($1000) KeyCorp Advocates Fund ($1000) KROGER COMPANY ($1000) OREGON ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($1000) OREGON BANKERS PAC ($1000) OREGON OPTOMETRIC PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL ($1000) OREGON TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION PAC ($1000) OREGONIANS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING ($1000) PGE EMPLOYEE CANDIDATE ASSISTANCE FUND ($1000) PORTLAND METRO FIRE FIGHTERS PAC ($1000) Progressive Automobile Insurance ($1000) WELLS FARGO & CO. OREGON POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ($1000)

    And of course Ginny's largest contributor, Comcast (at $10K) was nowhere to be seen in her Senate race.

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    Chris, great work--you rock! I love data like this (although, as a colorblind guy, I have to say that the red/green thing is a nightmare--I haven't any idea what I'm looking at). This could be the wave of the future--a very clear, easily grasped distribution of support. In stats, we sometimes talk about "visual inspection of the data," which essentially means, "without running any numbers, it looks like...". You've provided an excellent visual inspector.

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    Jeff, are there better color pairs that work for folks who are color-blind?

    But you can pretty much generalize "small squares are Erik, large ones are Ginny" :-)

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    People are either red/green or blue/green, so not using green is a good start. Although you might not want to use it in a primary between Dems, blue and red actually work pretty well. Yellow and anything is usually good, too.

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    You're colorblind? No wonder you didn't originally like the name BlueOregon!

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    Chris, in fairness, Burdick does have at least some support from the eastside, or rather, support spread evenly around the state in a sense. Every Oregon taxpayer is paying for her political campaign through the Oregon Political Tax Credit, as reported first in the February 8, 2006 edition of Willamette Week:

    City Council candidate Ginny Burdick's opposition to publicly financed elections couldn't be clearer on her campaign website: "One thing distinguishing my campaign from that of my incumbent opponent is that I will not be taking taxpayer dollars." Yet Burdick's mailings for her run against Commissioner Erik Sten include a plea for—that's right—public financing of her campaign. "Political contributions up to $50 per person and $100 per couple may be refunded as a tax credit on your Oregon tax return," reads a reminder on Burdick's return envelope. The political-contribution tax credit, enacted in 1969, costs the state more than $5 million annually—about five times the expected cost of the city elections plan hatched by Sten.

    And what is Burdick's campaign doing with this taxpayer money? What else -- blasting Sten for using public resources on his political campaign. Nice!

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    Chris,

    I am going to Ann Arbor to learn spatial regression techniques this summer, and I think I have a student who'll work on a thesis next year on the clustering of votes and donations in Portland. We'll talk more, I'm sure.

    Along with jeff, I think the mapping stuff is great. I hope to produce the maps with ArcGIS using precinct boundaries, then neighborhood boundaries on top (as Amanda suggests).

    My intuitions are somewhat challenged by the map--I need to know more about the area north of 84 than i do. I think this is Irvington area so again, inner neighborhood wealth.

    I see very few contributions coming from anywhere east of 39th street. I really want to see the donations overlaid with votes.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    OK, either your point is (a) geography matters; or (b) who it is matters.

    It seems like it's more (b), because you point to those in Ginny's Senate District, and list who they are.

    I'd agree with that. Frankly, I don't think geography is a good visualization for diversity of community support -- there are Greens and Libertarians across the city, for example, and just a map showing contributions from those people doesn't show I have diverse community support.

    This is one case where the picture tells 1000 words, but it's the wrong story. The story that should be told is better told with words.

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    Jesse, the big story is the size of the dots, i.e., the accountability created to a few big donors, versus to all the voters of Portland.

    The east/west issue is an interesting sidebar.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    Fine, but again -- I don't the map is a good way to show this.

    If you'd show a chart with each donor dot indicating its size (using accurate volume, per Edward Tufte), that would make the point that the SIZE and NUMBERS of the donors matters. Erik would have 1000 donors of $5, plus seed money, plus x voters each giving 30 cents. Ginny would have a very different chart.

    It'd be sort of like that Organize! graphic with all the little fish eating the big fish.

    <h2>Geographic location, as I argued before, is a distraction here. Even though we all love maps. :)</h2>

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