North Carolina Open Government Coalition supports new campaign finance analysis project


The North Carolina Open Government Coalition supported and released a new project Friday that allows for a new understanding of the players that fund state campaigns in North Carolina and how federal money plays a role in state politics. 

New network analysis visuals and an accompanying story has been published by the national campaign finance watchdog publication Sludge.

The project text and associated network analysis visuals are being made available to media outlets in North Carolina at no charge under a few conditions (see below).

The project focuses on the push by Democrats to win state House and Senate elections in order to hold more sway over the redistricting process. Coupled with a presidential and U.S. Senate races, the 2020 election season is likely the most expensive election cycle on record in North Carolina.

Given limitations in tracking campaign finance data, this analysis focused on the 10 most expensive and 10 closest legislative races. The network analysis revealed, among other findings:

  • Large corporate Political Action Committees from key industries — healthcare, energy and real estate — contributed in all of the top ten close races the analysis examined. Corporations, though, tended to favor incumbents, which were more often members of the GOP. 
  • Even when candidates do not directly receive money from special interests, some of this money may indirectly end up in their pockets, as campaigns often pass money to each other. In the races analyzed here, Democratic candidates in safe races who receive special interest money passed money to challengers in more competitive contests.
  • Federal entities are central contributors to both Democratic and Republican candidates, but on the Democratic side side they tend to be PACs, while on the Republican side they tend to be U.S. Congressional candidates or in-state Republican power brokers.

The report also has additional findings about specific races and comments from Democratic and Republican officials about a historically expensive 2020 campaign cycle. 

For state and local media wishing to use the story or parts of it:

  • Please give credit to the authors — Jeremy Borden, Michael Taffe, Kathy Qian.
  • Write or say that the story is “a project of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, a nonpartisan nonprofit group dedicated to improving access to public information and educating citizens about the importance of government transparency.”
  • Credit Kathy Qian, co-founder and executive director of Code for Democracy, for the visuals. 
  • Find the story text on the Sludge website and link back to the original. 

All visuals and links with embed codes are below. Alternatively, the visuals can be linked to by highlighting and copying and pasting the text between the quotation marks, e.g.

[Network for Democrats]
<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

[Network for Republicans]
<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

[Network for All Highlighted Races]

<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

[Network for Senate District 31]

<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

[Network for House District 9]

<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

[Network for House District 63]

<iframe src="" width="940" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>

All related underlying data sets can be found here and are available for download. “Node” files indicate connections between groups that funds campaigns and pirates; “edge” files denote contributions. The “crosswalk” file is a clean set of committee names that Michael Taffe compiled with much manual data cleaning labor, as the State Board of Elections does not track committee names and IDs over time.  

If possible, please email a link to any coverage to