Super PACs Distort per Capita Influence

Aug. 15, 2012 -- MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money's influence on politics, has conducted an analysis of census data combined with the geographic origin of over $306 million in contributions to super PACs from Jan. 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012. The analysis found that a disproportionate amount of contributions comes from a few states:

  • Four states (Texas, Nevada, California, and New York) and Washington D.C. account for two-thirds of every dollar contributed to super PACs from Jan. 1, 2011- June 30, 2012. These states and D.C. only represent one-quarter of the U.S. population.

POPULATION PERCENTAGE OF TOP 25 CONTRIBUTING STATES TO SUPER PACS (INCLUDING D.C.):

State Population Contributions Population Percentage Contribution Percentage Rank by Contributions
Grand Total 308,745,538* 306,592,558 100% 100%  
           
Texas 25,145,561 60,402,587 8.14% 19.70% 1
Nevada 2,700,551 43,824,269 0.87% 14.29% 2
California 37,253,956 38,310,387 12.07% 12.50% 3
District of Columbia 601,723 34,878,458 0.19% 11.38% 4
New York 19,378,102 26,619,753 6.28% 8.68% 5
Florida 18,801,310 16,977,289 6.09% 5.54% 6
Illinois 12,830,632 11,527,397 4.16% 3.76% 7
Massachusetts 6,547,629 8,206,309 2.12% 2.68% 8
Utah 2,763,885 6,060,354 0.90% 1.98% 9
Oklahoma 3,751,351 5,087,392 1.22% 1.66% 10
Wyoming 563,626 4,418,950 0.18% 1.44% 11
Virginia 8,001,024 4,417,932 2.59% 1.44% 12
Pennsylvania 12,702,379 4,258,723 4.11% 1.39% 13
Connecticut 3,574,097 3,957,834 1.16% 1.29% 14
Ohio 11,536,504 3,808,959 3.74% 1.24% 15
Maryland 5,773,552 3,759,570 1.87% 1.23% 16
Louisiana 4,533,372 2,645,613 1.47% 0.86% 17
Georgia 9,687,653 2,636,483 3.14% 0.86% 18
Missouri 5,988,927 2,543,305 1.94% 0.83% 19
New Jersey 8,791,894 2,531,819 2.85% 0.83% 20
Arkansas 2,915,918 2,237,675 0.94% 0.73% 21
Indiana 6,483,802 2,151,554 2.10% 0.70% 22
Arizona 6,392,017 1,802,834 2.07% 0.59% 23
Michigan 9,883,640 1,712,311 3.20% 0.56% 24
Washington 6,724,540 1,663,025 2.18% 0.54% 25
* Census estimate as of April 1, 2010

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Contribution data source: Federal Election Commission, Jan. 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012. Population data source: U.S. Census annual estimates of the resident population for the United States, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 - (XLS | CSV). Candidate positions data source: New York Times.

A link to a spreadsheet of the FEC data can be found here, http://maplt.org/NuCCUs

A link to the above data table can be found here.

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that reveals money's influence on politics. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.


Background:
Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United, and a subsequent ruling in a lower court, Speech Now v FEC, any entity (be it an individual, union, or company) can make unlimited contributions to super PACs to specifically advocate for or against federal candidates as long as they do not explicitly coordinate with those candidates' campaigns.

DATA VISUALIZATIONS:
MapLight's interactive Tableau data visualizations show a timeline of contributions — Leaders of the (Super) PAC — and the geographic origin of contributions down to individual cities — Five Million Dollar Club. They can be easily embeded on blogs and websites by clicking on the link symbol at the bottom of the visualization. Please contact MapLight if you need technical assistance.

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