data visualization


Following the Money: Who’s Paying for the Propositions?

Includes interactive funding chart
Individuals and organizations are spending millions in this election to win support for, or to defeat, a variety of propositions on California’s ballot. Anyone who’s watched even a smidgen of TV in the last two months can attest to the inundation of prop commercials out there. Often times, the names, affiliations, and locations of the big funders (who are oftentimes out-of-state groups) are left intentionally vague – organizations like Americans for Responsible Leadership, a conservative Arizona-based group that’s donated $11 million in favor of Prop 32. Such opaqueness makes it nearly impossible, from the ads alone, to decipher a funder’s political affiliation or long-term agenda. So, a little sleuthing can go a long way to find out who’s behind what. Bottom line: you always gotta follow the money! And the Vote’s Edge project at MapLight – a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm – makes it pretty easy to do just that. Check out their cash flow tracking app.

Redistricting, California Style: Letting the “People” Draw the Maps

Includes: article; video; radio clip

2011 State Congressional Districts_California Citizens Redistricting Commission

Gerrymandering: it ain’t nothing new in California politics.

For much of the state’s history, the legislature has firmly controlled the once-a-decade redistricting process. New district lines are typically redrawn in a way that directly favors whichever party is in control.

Demographic techniques like splitting apart cities, carving up ethnic enclaves, and leaping across vast geographic swaths to bundle like-minded voters are common gerrymandering tools long used by pols to solidify power. Continue reading

Tying The Knot With Same-Sex Marriage: Obama’s Slow Evolution

Includes: interactive timeline (with videos)

The year was 1996, and a political novice named Barack Obama was running for Illinois State Senate – his first bid for public office. Responding to a questionnaire from Outlines, a gay newspaper in Chicago, Obama wrote: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

It took him till now to return to that position.

Just two years later, Obama was deeply steeped in the world of politics. In his re-election bid for state senate, the same newspaper asked the same question. Obama’s position had already shifted, though. In response, he said he was now “undecided.”

Since then, Obama has held fast in his support for civil unions and equal rights for gays and lesbians, but until this week, he never firmly tied the knot in support of same-sex marriage. Scroll through the timeline, and view the clips, to see Obama long “evolving” feelings on this issue.