Where the Money Goes: Tracking Political Contributions in Santa Barbara County
Mentor: Nomi Morris
This project aims to provide more transparency to Santa Barbara county residents and journalists about local campaign finance by using data journalism techniques. I write for the Daily Nexus’ data journalism section, and through contributing to the Nexus’ coverage on political contributions in local races, I realized that this data is currently difficult to both find and use. Through this project, I hope to make it easier for interested community members to access and understand local campaign finance data. My website will include three major components: a searchable and downloadable database showing political contributions and contributors from 2015-2018, as well as their zip codes and occupations; contextual information about the contributions and local politics; and additional data-driven analyses of the contributions. Campaign finance data can clarify individuals and organizations that have an interest in or might benefit from the election or passage of various candidates and measures. This data is a valuable source of information, and easier access to it will help inform residents and provide another layer of accountability to the public regarding our elected officials. As such, through the project, I hope to help voters and other community members make more informed and empowered decisions about voting and engagement in local politics.