Crunching campaign donation numbers yields different insights

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Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has so far raised more money in Connecticut than her rivals, but total haul is only one way to crunch the campaign finance filings the Federal Elections Commission released Thursday and Friday.

She’s neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders for number of donations in Connecticut and middle-of-the-pack on average donation value.

How much money did each candidate raise?

A total of 4,748 Connecticut residents have donated $2.9 million to presidential primary candidates at an average of $615.33 per donation, according to FEC filings through September.

Democrat Hillary Clinton took in $1.1 million, followed by Republican Jeb Bush, who raised $839,450 in the state.

How many donations were made to each candidate?

Counting up how many individual donations were made, Clinton came out on top again, with 1,282.

However, by that metric, Bush fell to fifth place. Democrat Bernie Sanders, with 1,158 donations, was the only candidate other than Clinton with more than 1,000 donations. Sanders and Clinton together took in more than half the number of donations in Connecticut.

Republican Ben Carson’s 544 donations put him a distant third. At the bottom of the list was Bobby Jindal, with one donation of $2,700, the maximum allowed.

How much did donors give each candidate on average?

Jindal’s one generous donor put him at the top of at least one list: Average donation amount. Next on the list, Chris Christie’s 46 donations averaged $2,213. Further down, top money-raiser Clinton’s average donation was $867.94. Sanders was at the bottom of the list with an average donation of $133.47.

What do some of these donors do for a living?

The contributor data from the FEC also includes contributors’ self-described occupations. The occupation data is hard to quantify because people choose how to describe their occupations, and there are multiple ways of saying the same thing, such as “EXECUTIVE” and “BUSINESS EXECUTIVE.”

Some descriptions have some real flair. One person described her occupation as “WIFE, MOM, MAID, COOK, TAXI DRIVER…” The taxi-driving mom donated $2,700 to John Kasich.

While flair is great, it makes analysis tricky, so we stuck with only the most common occupation descriptions, written exactly the same way, and ignored the rest.

Excluding 241 people listed as “information requested,” we looked at the top five most common occupations given:

  1. RETIRED, 972
  2. NOT EMPLOYED, 293
  3. ATTORNEY, 162
  4. HOMEMAKER, 152
  5. EXECUTIVE, 78

We found that while retirees were the biggest single group, their votes were split among a few candidates. Meanwhile, the smaller ‘not employed’ group went almost entirely with Sanders — 284 contributors out of 293. That made the ‘not employed’ constituency the largest single group by occupation to go for any one candidate.

The charts below show which candidates received the most donations from each of the top five occupations.

What do you think?