Why are contributions tracked starting in Jan. 2007?
The graphic shows individual donations for the 2008 election cycle, a two-year time period that began on Jan. 1, 2007. For campaign finance purposes, the general election phase begins when the candidate formally accepts the party's nomination. (top of glossary )
What are total receipts?
This figure includes total contributions to presidential candidates at all contribution levels. The graphic, however, only shows detail for itemized contributions of $200 or more. (top of glossary )
Why aren't donations below $200 included?
The graphic shows detail for all individual or aggregate contributions of $200 or more. Campaigns are not required to provide details such as the donor's name, address and occupation for most contributions of less than $200 when reporting their finances to the Federal Election Commission, the independent regulatory agency responsible for the civil enforcement and administration of campaign finance laws. Presidential campaigns file monthly election year reports with the FEC. (top of glossary )
What are the contribution limits?
Under federal law, in 2007-08, an individual may contribute no more than:
• $2,300 to a candidate per election (primary and general)
• $28,500 to a political party per year
• $108,200 combined per election cycle to candidates, parties and PACs
How was the sector list established?
The Federal Election Commission does not require individual donors to indicate the sector or industry in which they work.
The Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org) uses a hierarchical coding system to classify contributions by sector, industry and interest group.
The graphic shows 14 sectors — ten covering business groups and one each for "labor," "ideological/single-issues," "other," and "unknown." See the list below for the industries that make up each sector. Opensecrets.org has full detail on sectors, industries and categories.
In many cases, the sector and industry can not be determined from the information provided by the donor to the FEC. These contributions are not reflected in
the sector portion of the graphic.
• Agribusiness (Component industries. Tobacco, Dairy, Poultry & Eggs, Livestock, Agricultural Services & Products, Food Processing & Sales, Forestry & Forest Products)
• Communications/Electronics (Component industries. Printing & Publishing, TV/Movies/Music Telephone, Utilities, Telecom Services & Equipment, Computers/Internet)
• Construction (Component industries. General Contractors, Home Builders, Special Trade Contractors, Construction Services, Building Materials & Equipment)
• Defense (Component industries. Defense Aerospace, Defense Electronics, Miscellaneous Defense)
• Energy & Natural Resources (Component industries. Oil & Gas Mining, Electric Utilities, Waste Management)
• Finance, Insurance & Real Estate (Component industries. Commercial Banks, Savings & Loans, Credit Unions, Finance/Credit Companies, Securities & Investment, Insurance, Real Estate, Accountants)
• Health (Component industries. Health Professionals, Hospitals & Nursing Homes, Health Services/HMOs, Pharmaceuticals/Health Products)
• Ideological/Single-Issue (Component industries. Republican/Conservative, Democratic/Liberal, Leadership PACs, Foreign & Defense Policy, Pro-Israel, Women's Issues, Human Rights, Environment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, Abortion Policy/Abortion Rights Opponents, Abortion Policy/Abortion Rights Advocates, Candidate Committees)
• Labor (Component industries. Building Trade Unions, Industrial Unions, Transportation Unions, Public Sector Unions, Misc. Unions)
• Lawyers & Lobbyists (Component industries. Lawyers/Law Firms, Lobbyists)
• Miscellaneous Business (Component industries. Business Associations, Food & Beverage, Beer, Wine & Liquor, Retail Sales, Miscellaneous Services, Business Services, Recreation/Live Entertainment, Casinos/Gambling, Lodging/Tourism, Chemical & Related Manufacturing, Steel Production, Misc. Manufacturing & Distributing, Textiles)
• Other (Component industries. Non-profits, Foundations & Philanthropists, Civil Servants/Public Officials, Education, Clergy & Religious Organizations, Retired)
• Transportation (Component industries. Air Transport, Automotive, Trucking, Railroads, Sea Transport)
What are independent groups (527s)?
A 527 is atax-exempt group organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code to raise unlimited money for political activities including voter mobilization efforts and issue advocacy. (top of glossary )
Why are these 527s included?
The graphic includes the top 15 independent groups (527s) in terms of total contributions received. As the graphic is updated with new data, the 15 groups displayed may change. (top of glossary )