Big data reveals hidden patterns of political contributions.

“Forest of advocacy” provide a dynamic look at the partisan tilt of giving within organizations. For each organization, individuals are characterized as points sketching out a line over time. The X axis is time, and the Y axis represents the net partisan tilt of contributions over the preceding 6 months. Over the decades, one sees lines sketched out, reflecting the partisanship of individuals over time. For each organization, we also provide the net contributions of the entire organization, and the names of biggest Democratic, Republican, and “bipartisan” contributors (the individual with the highest product of Democratic and Republican contributions).

The video above provides an overview of the visualization—we recommend you look at this first. We have chosen eight organizations for our initial analysis: the ACLU, Bain Capital, Bain Company, Boston Consulting Group, Goldman Sachs, Harvard Business School, Heritage Foundation, and McKinsey Company. You can click below for the visualization associated with each organization..

There are notable, if unsurprising tilts inside various organizations. Some organizations are partisan in the sense that most of their employees give to the same party. The ACLU employees tend to give to the Democratic candidates. People in the Heritage Foundation give primarily to Republicans. Other organizations are bi-partisan in that they employ both Democratic and Republican partisans. For example, Harvard Business School employees, faculty and students give to both parties. The number of individuals on each side is balanced, but few paths cross the center line.

In contrast with these typical patterns of giving, in certain organizations many individuals give to both sides. For example, employees at Goldman Sachs often give to both parties over time. This is indicated by the large number of paths that criss-cross the center. At the organizational level, there is an overall bias towards the Democrats, and a sharp shift toward Republicans starting in the 2010 election cycle. However, at the individual level people give to both sides during these phases. In contrast to giving to a party because of an ideological affinity, this suggests that these people give to recipients who might share their view on particular issues that cross cut ideology.

If you have suggestions as to other organizations that we should incorporate into the Forest of Advocacy, please leave a suggestion at our affiliated blog.