Exploring and using Board data
Selecting, sorting, filtering, downloading, and more
Using the main data sets
The main data sets are accessed from the "Reports and data" menu item and they appear at the top left under the "Searches" heading.
Scope of data
All data sets include data from 2010 through the present.
The main data sets include the following:
- Contributions received
- Money spent
- Independent expenditures (spender)
- Independent expenditures (candidate)
More about the data sets
This data set consists of one record for each contribution received by a registered entity in the campaign finance program. To use this data set, select one or more recipients of contributors using the search box at the top of the form.
This data set consists of one record for each expenditure item reported by a registered entity in the campaign finance program. To use this data set, use the search box to select one or more registered entities whose expenditures you want to review.
For this data set, expenditures include all money spent, including money used to make contributions and independent expenditures. You can limit your search to specific types of expenditures by using the select filter in the Type column. See below for more information on filtering data.
Independent expenditures (spender)
This data set consists of only independent expenditures and is organized by who made the expenditure. To use this data set, select one or more makers of independent expenditures using the search box.
Independent expenditures (candidate)
This data set also includes all independent expenditures, but in this case, they are organized by the affected candidate rather than the spender. To use this data set, select one or more affected candidates using the search box.
This data set includes one record for each contribution received by a registered entity in the campaign finance program. For this data set, records are organized based on contributor rather than recipient. To use this data set, select one or more contributors in the searchbox.
Using the searchbox selector
Each data search form has a search box as the first user field. To select an entity for your data search, begin typing the entity name in the search box. Continue typing until you find the entity you want, then click on the entity name or, if the name is highlighted, press the enter key.
Selecting and removing multiple entities
Select multiple entities by repeating the process above. Go back to the search box and type in the next name. As you add names, they will be listed below the search box. Each name will have an "X" next to it. Click on the X to remove the name from your search list. If you have more than one entity selected, you will also see a "Clear all" button that you can use to remove all entities from your search.
By default, data is sorted by the first column, which is the column that is based on your selection in the search box. If you only selected one entity in the search box, sorting on this column will not change the organization of your data. The graphic with and arrow and horizontal bars of increasing length indicate that the data is sorted in ascending order on this column.
You can sort on any column by clicking on the column name box. Click the box again to sort in the opposite order. Sorts are not compound. That is, you cannot combine sorts. Each sort re-orders the data without regard to what a previous sort did.
If you have set up a sort that is different from the default sort, you will see a "Refresh sort" button above the grid column names. Click this button to restore the data to its original default sort.
What is filtering?
Filtering data means setting up limits on the data so that your data set returns fewer than all possible records. For example, you may want to filter campaign finance data by a particular calendar year or group of years so that you see only the records for those years.
By default the main data set searches filter by selecting only the most recent filing year available for the selected filer. All other columns that may be filtered are set to include all data.
How to know which columns you can filter
Each data set is displayed in a grid with column names across the top. If filtering is available for that column, there will be a box below that will say "Filter", "Select", or "All". In the case of the reporting year, the box will display the most recent year that the entity has filed a report.
Three methods of filtering: select, keyword, and yes/no
If the filter box contains the word "Filter", keyword filtering is available for the column. Keyword filtering matches what you type in the filter box with the content of that column for the record set. So if the column is "Recipient" and you type in a last name, the data set will be filtered to include only people with that last name.
Using special operators in keyword filtering
When you filter on keywords, you can use certain special operators in addition to just using text. For example, with numbers, such as dollar amounts, you can use the greater than operator (>), the less than operator (<), and the equals operator (=). You can also use these operators in combination by using AND and OR operators. For example to filter amounts greater than or equal to $300 but less than $1000 you would set your filter to >+300 AND <1000. You can also use special operators in text filtering
If the filter box says "Select", then select filtering is available for that column. Select filtering is used when there are a limited number of choices to filter on, such as filing years. Clicking on the Select filter button will open a filter box that lists all the choices. You can use the "Select all" or "Select none" options at the top of the box, or you can make individual selections by checking the boxes for the data you want to include in your data set.
Some columns are set up to be either a Yes or a No, such as the column indicating if a contribution is an in-kind contribution. By default, these columns are set to filter "All", which means they will include records that have either Yes or No for this column. You can click the filter box and set it to either Yes or No if you want to limit your selection based on this column.
If you have filters applied, you will see a "Clear filters' above the column names for the grid. Click it to clear all filters.
Column options, grid size, number of results per page
Below the list of entities that are included in your search, you will see some options which you can click on to change. Each is described below.
Column display options
Sometimes there is more data available than we display on the default grid. If you click on the "Column display options" button, you will see a list of all columns that are available for this grid. Check or uncheck the box next to a column to enable or disable it for display on your grid.
Use this option button to increase or decrease the font size of the data displayed in the grid.
Show 100 results per page
By default most grids display 100 results per page to ensure quick loading. You can change this by using the number of results option button.
Once you have configured a data grid, you can use the "Show totals" button at the right, above the grid column names, to show the total amount of the records in your grid.
The show totals button totals only those records that are included in the filters that are currently applied.
You can download the data from your data sets by clicking the download data button. When you click the button, you will have the option of giving your downloaded data a name. The default name is "data.csv" Change the text "data" to your own name if you want to give your download file a unique name.
Once you give your data download a name, click the "Download CSV" button. The download will begin. How the download process is displayed and how you open the download file depends on the web browser you are using. Consult your browser's help system for details.
What is a CSV file?
A CSV file is a standard format file for data downloads. Technically, it means comma-separated variable field length. It is a file that can be natively opened in most data management tools such as Microsoft Excel or Access.
Downloads and column options, sorting, and filtering
When you download data, all available columns are provided whether you are displaying them on your grid or not. Any sorting or filtering you applied to your grid is carried over to the downloaded data.