15
Nov
2016
19:20 PM

DNC Bernie Sanders Emails

Wikileaks has provided people like myself with an abundance of material to download, analyze, visualize, and ultimately to share insights on the behaviors of the elites, in this case the emails from the Democratic National Committee or DNC. Using this data source, we have the ability to mine specific aspects of the entire dataset using a simple search term on the Wikileaks site. For this post, and the accompanying visualizations, I have chosen to examine the DNC's treatment of Bernie Sanders, who materialized into a serious contender for the Democratic nomination.

It was revealed through many of these emails that the DNC was consciously favoring Hillary Clinton over the upstart Sanders. In this post, I will examine the linkages between both insiders at the DNC and outside contacts such as reporters and campaign personnel. To do this, I'll employ Gephi, the open source network analysis tool, followed by Sigma.js for visualizing the final networks on the web. The initial goal will be to understand the relationships in the network, using a variety of analytic measures such as centrality, modularity, connected components, and degrees. Using these measures, we will be able to better understand how data flowed both into and out of the DNC via the email channel.

What we'll wind up with is essentially a meta-view of the DNC's email activities. Our initial pass at the data using network analysis will not focus on the content of the emails; for that, we'll do some subsequent text mining to help us understand both the content and tone of the email exchanges. I hope to be able to tie these two pieces together, so that we may ultimately understand who was saying what about Sanders, and who it was being communicated to. Let's get started with the network analysis by providing some background on the graph statistics to be employed.

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07
Nov
2016
21:50 PM

Wikileaks and the Podesta Emails

Thank goodness for Julian Assange and Wikileaks, as well as the others who have dared fight the established political forces in this country. Thanks to their efforts, the veil has been lifted and we can all see how manipulative and crooked these folks are as they do their level best to fleece the average citizen and make themselves wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. So it is with Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign, as the recent hacks of the John Podesta emails have confirmed. For full details, you can start here: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/.

Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and a long-time associate of the Clintons has been exposed as a master manipulator, working with many others behind the scenes to tilt the campaign in Clinton's favor. Thanks to Wikileaks, we can see very clearly the efforts of a host of players to do everything in their power to discredit Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in an effort to put their candidate in the White House. The individual emails lay bare the machinations of the Democratic National Committee in scurrilous detail, and make for entertaining reading. Of course, many of Hillary Clinton's supporters will dismiss any notions of wrongdoing courtesy of the rather pathetic pronouncements of FBI Director Comey, but the evidence is plentiful, regardless of the FBI's "official" position.

In this post, I'll take a network graph view of the players involved, using data from the http://gdeltproject.org. This will help shed light on the primary participants, how they interrelate, and who the "targets" of their mischief are. At some point, I'll also work up a text analysis of the email content, but that's for another post.

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14
Apr
2016
20:45 PM

Who Finances the Candidates? Part 1

Revisiting a recurring theme, it's time to examine some more data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), specifically revolving around the 2016 US presidential campaign cycle. Our goal is to shine a light on which political committees are donating to the campaigns of the various candidates, and to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of campaign finance. Using Gephi and Sigma.js as my platforms, I've built a highly interactive network to facilitate further exploration of the contribution patterns covering a period from January 2015 through February 2016. This type of network is commonly known as bipartite, wherein there are two main categories that connect to each other, but not to their own type. Here we will have committees and candidates connected, but not committee to committee or candidate to candidate.

In this piece, we'll view selected patterns within the network that I find of particular interest, leaving the rest for you the reader to explore further. This article's focus will be on the Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Let's start with a snapshot of the entire network, with the candidates depicted in blue (Democrat) or red (Republican) shades:

full network

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13
Feb
2016
16:49 PM

Candidate Contribution Patterns

As the 2016 election season trudges inexorably toward a November climax, it might be instructive to learn more about all of the candidates, both those who have withdrawn as well as the remaining hopefuls. An interesting way to do this is to ignore all the debates, talking points, and public pronouncements, and instead focus on the campaign contribution patterns of each candidate. Using data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) http://www.fec.gov/disclosurep/pnational.do, we can observe and analyze patterns within the contribution filings. This will enable deeper insight into who is funding the campaigns, at least at the visible, public level, if not the somewhat murkier world of political PACs and other organizational entities.

To provide insight into this data, we'll work with a candidate dashboard using Tableau Public. With this approach, not only can I begin to draw some conclusions about the candidates and their supporters, but others can also dive into the data and detect underlying patterns. In this article, I will first provide a link to this dashboard, allowing readers to investigate the data on their own, but we will then look at a variety of excerpts from the dashboard that should call out some of the important patterns in the data.

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16
Jul
2015
12:45 PM

Contribution Footprints

A few months back I did a network visualization on political contributions to political candidates. This network was composed of candidates, incumbents, political action committees (PACs), corporations, trade associations, and more. The network was very dense, and perhaps a bit intimidating to navigate, but filled with a lot of interesting information. I thought it would be interesting to dissect the network a bit, and show a handful of the visual footprints for selected candidates, PACs, corporations, labor unions, and trade associations.

The footprint notion is inspired by a very interesting and informative book written by Cesar Hidalgo and others titled "The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity", found here: Atlas of Economic Complexity. The authors use a single footprint showing hundreds of industries and then overlay each country's footprint on this single global network. The graphs I'm about to share won't be based on one identical network, but will reflect each individual entity and their connections within the larger total network. Once you see the first charts you'll get a clearer picture of the concept.

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