Little money versus big money

Here’s a little data exploration. Although there are far more small-money contributions to congressional candidates than large-money contributions, the large-money contributions more than make up for the difference in aggregate totals.

I’ve binned all reported individual contributions (types 15 and 15E) to congressional candidates (‘H’ and ‘S’ committees) in the 2011-2012 election cycle so that the bucket means are close to most common contribution amounts ($250, $500, $1000, and $2500), using FEC data. Amendments to filings were ignored. (Source Code)

Nothing new or exciting here. Just useful to have numbers.

Not included here are contributions to non-candidate PACs (issue PACs, leadership PACs, etc. , except when those contributions were earmarked) and unreported contributions (<$200), but we can extrapolate from this data that while there may be a lot of unreported contributions they likely don’t add up to much.


Bucket Mean Count Aggregate
up to $400 $250 172,403 $43,100,765
$400-$700 $500 124,569 $62,311,846
$701-$1,400 $1,000 93,398 $93,371,774
$1,400 or more $2,422 78,855 $190,976,770

(The bins overlap because I’ve apportioned some of those contributions to both sides in order to make the mean contribution of each bin close to a nice number.)

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