Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

feb
01
2012

Year-End Campaign Finance Reports

Yesterday, in addition to being the date of the Florida GOP primary, also was a major Federal Election Commission deadline for candidates and political action committees to submit their year-end financial disclosures. Candidates had last filed at the end of the third quarter. Possibly more interesting was what might be gleaned from superPAC disclosures: Most of the ones that we tracked were not particularly active as of the last superPAC filing deadline (mid-2011) — if they even existed — and this would be the first chance to really see the kind of money going their direction.

So, during lulls in election night coverage, I haunted the FEC website (and former Post colleague Derek Willis’s Twitter account) for new filings, adding data to this table as it came in:

2012 Money Race: Battling For The Bottom Line

2012 Money Race: Battling For The Bottom Line” (NPR, Feb. 1, 2012)

This table built on what we set up for third-quarter campaign disclosures, adding corresponding superPAC info for each candidate. I couldn’t necessarily add the candidate and superPAC totals together — legally, the two are independent and non-coordinating — but we did want to draw a visual connection between the two, grouping them together in the table.

My NPR colleagues Robert Benincasa and Peter Overby did an analysis of the various filings and, among other things, parsed out funds raised by the campaigns / superPACs by week. I fed those numbers into an interactive chart, built using the jQuery graphing library Flot. I set up this template a few months ago and have used it many times — including the third-quarter financial disclosures. This time, I modified it slightly so that when the user selects a candidate, the graph displays the weekly data for both that candidate and the superPAC that supports him.

Interactive: 2012 Campaign Cash, Week By Week

Important note about these graphs: We’re not able to graph small-donor contributions at the weekly level, as campaigns are required to itemize contribution info only for donors who have contributed over $200. So while these graphs may give an idea of the general trend of a candidate’s fundraising, they are not a complete picture.

2012 Campaign Cash, Week By Week” (NPR, Feb. 1, 2012)

NPR stories that have come out of this round of FEC disclosures so far:

jan
30
2012

Wrangling Election Data With Google Tools

WNYC developer John Keefe has some great tutorials on how to use various Google Tools to process / display elections data. Instead of building a database, he uses Google Fusion Tables.

  • When the Data’s Free: For the Iowa Caucuses (and this Saturday’s Nevada Caucuses), Google worked directly with the state GOP to get live results and then shared them via Google Fusion Tables.

  • When the Data Comes from AP: For the other primaries to date, Keefe has used data from AP’s subscription election results service. This tutorial outlines his process for getting data from AP’s FTP site to Fusion Tables (and then refreshing it every few minutes).

jan
29
2012

Photo of the Day: Secure

A favorite NPR sign, in the parking garage. #nprlife

A favorite NPR sign, in the elevator lobby off the parking garage.

jan
27
2012

Going for a Ride

When you select something for purchase at photo / video superstore B&H in New York City, the salespeople, instead of the item to you, will put the item on a conveyor belt that runs overhead throughout the store. When you're done shopping, you can pick up your goodies at a kiosk by the checkout. Here, take a virtual ride on that conveyor belt.

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Farewell To An Unlikely Hero: Why 'Chuck' Packed Such A Potent Punch | Monkey See | NPR

Linda Holmes writes, “Against overwhelming odds and in spite of eternally low ratings, Chuck’s life and death speaks in surprisingly potent ways to how television is changing. More than anything, Chuck is a story about the rise of the fan … And Chuck fans, in their businesslike enthusiasm, sold themselves as a product.”

jan
25
2012

The Markup: Notes On The State Of The Union | NPR

President Obama has laid out his vision for the nation. We marked up his speech with fact checking, analysis and reaction — all in the margin.” I worked with Erica Ryan to set up this page within our CMS, tweaking the CSS to narrow the main content column and kick the annotations into the new left margin.

jan
23
2012

Yosemite

Absolutely stunning. Watch it in full-screen mode.

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jan
22
2012

Photo of the Day: Freeze

Yesterday's snow (and subsequent thaw / refreeze) iced over the front yard.

Yesterday’s snow (and subsequent thaw / refreeze) iced over the front yard.

jan
20
2012

Watching Them Watching Me | Modern Love | NYTimes.com

Dean E. Murphy writes, “The death of a spouse rewrites the rules of a family in ways I never could have imagined.” Warning: Have Kleenex at the ready.

jan
11
2012

Photo of the Day: Hydrangea Detail

Hydrangea detail #macro

A close-up photo of one of the hydrangea flowers in a vase in my living room, taken with a magnetic iPhone macro lens. You have to get really close to your subject before the camera will focus. In this case, I think it worked out well.

jan
10
2012

The Joy of Books

I cannot even fathom the amount of work that went into this stop-motion video. Un-shelving, re-shelving, resetting the store the next morning, starting all over again at night… Still, this video is magical. About the project (from the YouTube page): …

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