The Difference Between 4% and 6%

I'm really understanding the benefits of technology these days. I was speaking with a professor last week and he was telling me about the very nasty political campaign that ran against Abraham Lincoln. I never knew that happened in spite of the hours and hours of American History we all had to sit through. But it makes sense in a warped political way. He was perceived as a threat to what some people were comfortable with (how's that for an understatement?!) and so he was the target of threats, rumors and scandal mongers.

Exactly how fast did a rumor spread 1861?

Think of it... Imagine no CNN or Headline News. No USA Today. No 6:00 local nightly news and no 6:30 national nightly news. No phones, never mind cell phones. No computers. No Internet. No instant messaging.

If your neighbor told you something you'd want to pass on, how long would it take for the news to get to the next state if you could only rely on face to face conversations or hand-written letters delivered on foot or horseback? Keep in mind that people were living much farther apart back then too.

But, with the technology available now, when Brittany Spears' baby falls, we all know about it within 12 hours, if that long. Now, whether we need to know that is a whole other column, but the speed and availability of information on the Internet makes things possible that were never dreamed of.

Like finding out exactly who gave how much to which candidate. There are various sites that let you search out that information. The Federal Election Commission site is the warehouse of all the campaign filings, where the original sources are found. Open Secrets offers a variety of comparisons between candidates. At Campaign Money, I can search exactly who in my zip code donated how much to who. In these days of Abramhoff and National Energy Policies written by the oil companies, if I can't fight them, I can at least know who they are.

I've spent the last several days making my own analysis of the campaign finances in light of my personal issues of interest.

In a previous post, I wrote about listening to the then 4 candidates for Congress from the NY24 speak on a panel. We're down to 2 now, but I'm still nagged by a question I asked Les Roberts during that meeting. He had spoken about the national fundraising tour he was on and how much money he was raising in New Hampshire, Chicago, etc. I've lived in Utica and New Hartford, aside from academic months away for college, since I was 7 years old. This is my home. I asked him "why do all these people from all around America want you to be our representative in Congress?"

This election has gotten much bigger than anything I've ever done, which is exciting and slightly terrifying too. Understanding how expensive this race will be, I full well know that there will be significant money coming into the area from outside the area. Personally, that always makes me a little uncomfortable. But practicality demands that things cost money and the money has to be found. Its just as green outside the NY24 as inside.

But, it's also a measure of how much support a candidate has. And looking at the donations can offer all kinds of information. How that data can be used is dependent on what someone is looking for. I had a psychometrics prof who always said that the almost always right answer to almost any question is "It depends." That is why I chose the title of this entry.

I'm still trying to better understand why Les Roberts and his supporters want him to represent the NY24th in Congress. War zone victims, international and developing countries' healthcare issues, and genocide are subjects that greatly move me, not only as examples of man's inhumanity, but also because my heritage goes back to a country that has and continues to experience all three. But I can't say that those are problems we in the NY24th are facing and need help with.

So, for the last several days, I've been culling through the finance reports that have been filed with the FEC for the Roberts and Arcuri campaigns. I started simply out of curiosity about the Roberts' finances but what I found there made me go through the Michael Arcuri finances too.

Looking at contributions by individuals, I saw a lot of familiar names (yes, including my own). Hey, we're a small town in a lot of ways and there aren't many degrees of separation among us. It was no surprise to me how many people I knew. But the numbers are striking.

Arcuri for Congress Committee contributions from individuals:
96% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District.
4% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District.
(raw number:11 donors)
*Of the 4%, about a third are from people who I assume are friends or family members who live else where.
*Only 2 donors were from outside New York State, both I assume to have family ties.
*Three other donors are from the NYC area.

Friends of Les Roberts Committee contributions from individuals:
6% came from inside the NY 24th Congressional District. (raw number: 11 donors)
*60% of the inside district donation was from the candidate himself
*One of the inside district donors has stated that the only reason he donated was because the candidate had a web site up early enough
94% came from outside the NY 24th Congressional District
*Donations were made from the following states: Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, California, Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado, and the District of Columbia

The difference between 4% and 6% is obvious. It just depends on who's investing in OUR representation. I can (OK, I have to) live with money from people who don't call this place "HOME" making a difference in who will be representing us. But I still want to know why so many people who don't call the NY24th "home" want Roberts to represent us. But now I also want to know just who are all these people who think they know what's better FOR US?

When I was in grad school, my parents would visit and invariably my mother would rearrange my kitchen to the arrangement she thought it should be. It drove me crazy, but she is my mother. I'm getting that crazy feeling again.