Finding out who is funding whose campaign has never been easier in Hawaii, thanks to the state Campaign Spending Commission’s new online dashboard for the 2018 election.
Commission staff say the data visualization app boosts transparency and accountability in elections while helping the public follow the money of candidates seeking state and county offices.
“It’s super cool,” Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director Corie Tanida said during a tutorial about the new site at the commission’s meeting Wednesday.
Click below to enter the dashboard with a display of the top money-raising candidates:
Jamie Shell of Socrata (now Tyler Technologies), the firm contracted to develop the tool, said he approached it from the standpoint of whether his mother-in-law would be able to make sense of the data.
This new visualization tool meets that threshold, he said, noting how users don’t have to be proficient in Excel or some other program to sort through the data and pull out what’s relevant to them.
“We were already way far ahead of most places,” Commission Chair Bryan Luke said, referring to how Hawaii stacked up against other states in terms of publicly accessible campaign finance data. “This just makes it even better.”
In a couple clicks, you can see that Gov. David Ige has raised and spent more money on his bid for another four-year term than any other candidate in any race, for instance.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who lost to Ige in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary, was not far behind. And the site shows how she actually raised and spent more in the months leading up to the election.
The commission’s app lets users see the big picture, like how Hawaii candidates have collectively raised $2.7 million so far in 2018 alone. They spent about $4 million this year, mostly on advertising.
And the site lets users drill into the data to quickly see candidates’ biggest contributors, what time frame they raised the most money in and where it came from. In the lieutenant governor’s race, were they gearing up several months in advance, like Sen. Jill Tokuda, or did they hit their fundraising stride closer to the primary, like Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.?
The options are nearly endless as far as ways to sort and manipulate the information to pull out whatever is most relevant. And it’s not limited to candidates.
The dashboard also creates interactive charts for independent expenditure committees, which include super PACs and other groups that together pour millions of dollars into ads trying to sway voters.
Click below to enter the dashboard with a display of the biggest-spending candidates:
Sen. Josh Green, who beat Tokuda, Carvalho and two other candidates in the LG race, received the most help from outside money. The carpenters union and other political action committees spent $1 million to help him win the Democratic primary.
Hanabusa received the second most with about $920,000 in independent expenditures supporting her campaign, followed by Ige, who also had more money spent to oppose him than any candidate.
“We are very excited to offer this newest campaign spending visualization app to the public and hope that it will generate greater interest and voter participation as we approach the Nov. 6 general election,” Kristin Izumi-Nitao, the commission’s executive director, said.
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