Presidential campaign contributions, Virginia edition

The Federal Election Commission has been working to make the data from their campaign finance disclosures more accessible. For fun, I downloaded the file containing individual contributions to the presidential campaigns from Virginia and put together a quick table.

Presidential Campaign Contributions from Virginia, January 2011 through January 2012

Candidate Number Total Average
Obama, Barack 10,500 $2,569,326 $245
Romney, Mitt 2,422 $2,319,343 $958
Paul, Ron 2,756 $472,389 $171
Gingrich, Newt 846 $378,169 $447
Perry, Rick 218 $241,671 $1,109
Cain, Herman 597 $192,894 $323
Santorum, Rick 470 $178,132 $379
Pawlenty, Timothy 172 $140,149 $815
Huntsman, Jon 185 $115,864 $626
Bachmann, Michelle 383 $73,384 $192
Roemer, Charles E. ‘Buddy’ III 169 $10,203 $60
Johnson, Gary Earl 19 $9,276 $488
McCotter, Thaddeus G 1 $250 $250
Downloaded from

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Past year brought good news for Virginia, nation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics release of 2011 annual averages of regional and state unemployment shows continued good economic news for both the nation and Virginia.

  • Nationwide, unemployment rates dropped by 0.7% between 2010 and 2011.  Virginia saw a similar decline.
  • Virginia’s 2011 unemployment rate (6.2%) was much lower than the national average (8.9%).
  • Nearly two-thirds (64.7%) of Virginia’s population is working, compared to a national employment-population rate of 58.4%.  In fact, Virginia was the only state to significantly increase its employment-population ratio between 2010 and 2011.

Compared to its neighbors in the South Atlantic region, such as Maryland and North Carolina, Virginia had the lowest unemployment rate and highest employment/population ratio in 2011.  High employment may be one driver of Virginia’s low overall poverty rate.

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Obama job approval and unemployment in Virginia

The latest Quinnipiac poll of Virginia’s registered voters shows President Obama making headway against the likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  Forty-seven percent favor the President over Romney (43%) in a hypothetical match-up; a marked improvement since late last year when polls favored Romney by slim margins.

Quinnipiac Poll of Virginia Registered Voters:
If the election for President were being held today, and the candidates were Barack Obama the Democrat and Mitt Romney the Republican, for whom would you vote?
Feb. 2012 Dec. 2011 Oct. 2011 Sept 2011
Obama 47% 42% 44% 42%
Romney 43% 44% 45% 44%

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A deeper look at aggregate data analysis

A recent article in the January 23, 2012 issue of National Review drew some interesting conclusions from a research paper by Casey B. Mulligan, a University of Chicago economist, about the growth of the social safety net during the ongoing Recession.  The interesting part, though, was not in the conclusions themselves, but in how the author of the article misused the data to get there.

In his write-up, Hassett states that spending on social programs “increased not only due to the recession, but because the eligibility requirements for most programs were expanded, and their benefits increased.  Spending per person has gone up, not just total spending.”  This much is true.  But throughout the remainder of the article, Hassett carefully bends his words and the data to mislead the reader and conclude that staying home and collecting a government check has never been so attractive.

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Welcome to Stat Chat

Demography is destiny – or so, reputedly, said French philosopher and founder of sociology, Auguste Comte. While the assertion is, perhaps, too strong, demography can help us understand changes in economies, cultures, and politics. This is why we, research professionals at the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, are pleased to offer our new blog: Stat Chat.

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