Financing Texas Elections: 2010

Another cross-post from my work blog:

The 2010 political campaigns are over, but looking back at the fundraising and spending that financed them is now fully possible thanks to records made public by the Texas Ethics Commission after Tuesday’s filing deadline. 

With this new data, which cover donations and expenditures from October 24 to December 31, we can now illustrate campaign activity for the full year. This column chart visualizes campaign activity, by day, for all candidate/officeholders and specific-purpose committees during 2010. Red spikes represent spending; blue spikes represent fundraising.

(View a larger version)

The graphic offers an interesting, though not necessarily unexpected, timeline of the campaigns, which spent about $180 million during the year — not including what third-party groups devoted to the various contests up and down the ballot. I’ve highlighted spikes in activity that correlate with high points of the campaign. 

Notice spikes in the competitive Republican primary contest between Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, as well as the Democratic primary between former Houston mayor Bill White and hair care magnate Farouk Shami. The largest came on Feb. 18, when Perry, Hutchison and Shami spent about $3.5 million on television advertising ahead of Election Day. 

There’s a similar spike before the general election contests including Perry and White, and all the competitive and expensive Texas House races. The largest jump came on Oct. 15, when Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was fending off a challenge from labor leader Linda Chavez Thompson, purchased $5.1 million in television time. 

Other events are highlighted, too. You’ll see that fundraising jumped sharply on June 30, the mid-year filing deadline. It also spiked on Sept. 23, which was a deadline for the 30-day ethics filing, which is released Oct. 4. Another spike occurred on Dec. 11, the day before a fundraising moratorium before the 82nd legislative session.

Let us know if you have ideas for data-driven features or visualizations, and be sure to follow @TribData on Twitter.

UPDATE: Here’s a quick interactive version built with the Google Visualization API

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