Remote Control: Report

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group illuminating the connection between money and politics. In this study, we examined all campaign contributions given to members of the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2005 through December 2007 to determine the geographic sources of contributions to each Representative. We found that 79% of campaign contributions came from outside of members’ districts. In other words, legislators raised about four out of every five dollars in campaign funds from outside of where their constituents live. This report was published October 28, 2008. (Download this report in PDF format.)

Funds Raised from Out-of-District

U.S. House members raised $700 million in campaign funds during this three-year time period (2005-2007). $551 million of these funds, or 79%, came from out-of-district. $146 million of these funds, or 21%, came from in-district. The remaining $3 million of campaign funds (0.5%) could not be definitively located as in-district or out-of-district.

This study included all contributions from January 2005 through December 2007, excluding individual contributions of less than $200 and contributions from political parties, other candidates and leadership political action committees (PACs).

To our knowledge, this study is the first ever to examine the geographic sources of campaign funds for House members using street-address level of detail to determine whether contributions originated from in-district or out-of-district.

Out-of-District In-District Undetermined Location TOTAL
$550,700,851 (78.7%) $146,036,240 (20.9%) $3,439,752 (0.5%) $700,176,845 (100%)

We examined contributions given to 421 House members: all House members who were currently serving as of October 15, 2008. For consistency of comparison, we excluded House members who were elected or appointed after November 2006, members who lost primaries prior to June 1, 2008 and members from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

More than one in five House members, 22%, raised 90% or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts (91 out of 421 members). Five House members raised 99% or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts.

Virtually all House members, 97%, raised more than half of their funds from out-of-district (408 out of 421 members).

Only a handful of House members, 13 (3%), raised more than half of their funds from in-district, where their constituents live.

The average percentage of funds each Representative raised from out-of-district is 78.7%, and the median percentage is 81.1%. For out-of-district contributions figures for each Representative, see table.

Funds Raised from Out-of-State

House members raised 57% of their campaign funds from out-of-state ($396 million out of $700 million total). They raised 43% from in-state ($302 million). For the remaining $3 million of campaign funds (0.4%), the states of the contributors could not be determined.

About two-thirds of House members, 274 out of 421 (65%), raised half or more of their funds from out-of-state. Ninety-two House members (22%) raised 70% or more of their funds from out-of-state. Eight House members raised 90% or more of their funds from out-of-state.

The average percentage of funds each Representative raised from out-of-state is 56.7%, and the median percentage is 56.1%. For out-of-state contribution figures for each Representative, see table.

Top States

MAPLight.org analyzed contributions to all legislators from each state and from Washington, DC. Washington, DC, is the top location for contributors; it is the source of $146,807,711, which accounts for 21% of all contributions. With only 0.2% of the U.S. population, Washington, DC has fewer residents than every state except Wyoming. Washington, DC and its surrounding areas are home to scores of lobbying firms and political action committees.

For 99% of U.S. House members (418 out of 421), Washington, DC was among their top 5 contributing states. For 19% of U.S. House members (81 out of 421), Washington, DC was their number one contributing state.

Rank State
Contributions ($)
% of Total
#1 DC
146,807,711
21.1%
#2 VA
63,199,846
9.1%
#3 CA
58,737,935
8.4%
#4 NY
43,591,214
6.3%
#5 TX
41,155,680
5.9%
#6 IL
34,249,350
4.9%
#7 FL
33,254,038
4.8%
#8 PA
22,684,581
3.3%
#9 NJ
19,422,076
2.8%
#10 MD
18,757,019
2.7%

For a list of all states and their contribution amounts, see table.

Top Zip Codes

Of the top 20 Zip codes contributing to U.S. House members, 15 are in the greater Washington, DC area.

Almost all House members, 417 (99%), had at least one Washington, DC Zip code among their top 10 contributing Zip codes.

Rank Zip Code
Contributions ($)
% of Total
#1 Washington, DC 20005
28,851,410
4.14%
#2 Washington, DC 20001
27,501,614
3.95%
#3 Washington, DC 20036
27,498,273
3.95%
#4 Washington, DC 20006
21,832,335
3.13%
#5 Washington, DC 20004
17,821,677
2.56%
#6 Alexandria, VA 22314
12,152,407
1.74%
#7 Washington, DC 20007
5,824,832
0.84%
#8 Chicago, IL 60611
5,344,990
0.77%
#9 Mc Lean, VA 22102
5,236,354
0.75%
#10 Arlington, VA 22209
5,160,618
0.74%
#11 Washington, DC 20003
4,322,563
0.62%
#12 Arlington, VA 22202
4,143,208
0.59%
#13 Arlington, VA 22203
3,622,991
0.52%
#14 San Antonio, TX 78205
3,563,309
0.51%
#15 Washington, DC 20002
3,455,842
0.50%
#16 Washington, DC 20016
3,077,862
0.44%
#17 Falls Church, VA 22042
2,829,696
0.41%
#18 New York, NY 10019
2,707,463
0.39%
#19 Atlanta, GA 30328
2,682,019
0.38%
#20 New York, NY 10021
2,523,789
0.36%

For a list of the top 100 Zip codes and their contribution amounts, see table. The top 100 Zip codes made up 40% of total contributions from all Zip codes.

Statistics and Maps for Individual House Members

To view statistics for individual House members

  • Funds raised by every member from out-of-district and out-of-state (links disabled)
  • Search for a House member to view top contributing states and Zip codes, and a national map of each Representative’s campaign contributions

Methodology

This study included all contributions from January 2005 through December 2007, excluding individual contributions of less than $200 and contributions from political parties, other candidates and leadership PACs. We used campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics, whose data is based on reports that candidates and contributors are required to file with the Federal Elections Commission.

We examined contributions to 421 House members: all House members who were currently serving as of October 15, 2008, excluding House members who were elected or appointed after November 2006, members who lost primaries prior to June 1, 2008 and members from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Address Geolocation

Candidates are required to report to the Federal Elections Commission the address for each individual donor who contributes $200 or more. We used this address data to determine the Congressional district of each contributor. For contributions from PACs, we used the street address reported by the PAC. To geographically locate each of the 715,000 contributions, we partnered with Avencia Inc., a software development firm specializing in mapping solutions that employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

To our knowledge, this study is the first ever to examine the geographic sources of campaign funds for House members using street-address level of detail to determine whether contributions originated from in-district or out-of-district.

For 99.5% of contributions, the address information reported was sufficient to identify the contribution as in-district or out-of-district.

In the following situations we categorized addresses as “in-district:”

  • Contributor street address information corresponded to a latitude and longitude within the boundaries of the member’s Congressional district.
  • The geographic boundaries of the contributor’s Zip code were wholly contained within the member’s district.
  • The contributor’s state had just one Congressional district, and it was the member’s district.
  • The contributor’s address information narrowed the contributor’s location to two, three, or four specific districts, and one was the member’s district. For example, a contributor’s address that included only a Zip code that crossed district borders was counted as “in-district” if the Zip code region included any portion of the member’s district.

In the following situations we categorized addresses as “out-of-district:”

  • Contributor street address information corresponded to a latitude and longitude within the boundaries of another Congressional district.
  • The geographic boundaries of the contributor’s Zip code were outside the member’s district.
  • The contributor’s address information narrowed the contributor’s location to two, three, or four specific districts, none of which were the member’s district.

In the following situations we categorized addresses as “unknown location:”

  • Address did not correspond to any Congressional district. This included foreign addresses and territories.
  • Address information was blank or otherwise insufficient to locate contributor geographically.

Contributions Excluded

We excluded contributions from political parties because these contributions do not have a clear location of origin—it would not make sense to allocate them to a particular geographic place. We similarly excluded contributions from other candidates and leadership PACs because they do not come from a clear geographic place. Contributions from political parties, other candidates and leadership PACs made up 4.8% of total contributions.

We excluded contributions from individuals contributing less than $200 because there is no way to locate these contributions geographically, as they are not reported with address information. For 2006 House candidates, these contributions made up an estimated 10% percent of total funds raised (Campaign Finance Institute).

Funding

MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit research group, is funded by the following foundations, and by individual donors:

  • Sunlight Foundation
  • John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Columbia Foundation
  • JEHT Foundation
  • Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
  • Rockefeller Family Fund
  • Threshold Foundation
  • William B. Wiener Foundation

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge Sheila Krumholz and the Center for Responsive Politics for providing the contribution data used in this report. We offer special thanks to Megan Heckert and Robert Cheetham of Avencia, Inc. for locating each contribution within a Congressional district and for creating maps of contributions for each legislator. We also appreciate the advice of Brendan Glavin of the Campaign Finance Institute on the details of Federal campaign contribution data. MAPLight.org is solely responsible for the contents of this report.

Credits

This report was produced by the MAPLight.org team: Emily Calhoun, Neil Drumm, Pamela Heisey, Susannah Nadler, Daniel Newman, Andrew Page and Sean Tanner.

About the Center for Responsive Politics

Celebrating its 25th year in 2008, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. CRP’s award-winning Web site, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere. CRP relies on support from a combination of foundation grants and individual contributions. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, labor unions or trade associations.

About Avencia

Avencia is an award-winning software development firm that specializes in design and development of web-based mapping solutions that employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The firm was incorporated in 2000 to design and develop technologically advanced solutions to meet challenges best addressed through geospatial analytic approaches.

About MAPLight.org

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via a database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. Data sources include: GovTrack.us; Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org); Federal Election Commission (FEC); and National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP). To learn more visit www.maplight.org.

Tables

Any information in this report, including data tables and maps, may be freely reproduced provided credit is given to “MAPLight.org.”