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Who Will Win The 2016 Presidential Race? Follow the Money.

On the evening of the second Republican Party Presidential primary debate, it is still not clear who will win the GOP nomination. With Hillary Clinton struggling to tame the controversy surrounding her email practices as Secretary of State, Bernie Sanders skyrocketing in early primary state polling, and Vice President Joe Biden contemplating a Presidential bid, the Democratic Party nominee is uncertain as well.

A recent blog piece by the Wall Street Journal has taken a closer look at the financial contributions to each campaign. In this analysis, the donors to each candidate were mapped by zip code. By analyzing the geographic source of these financial contributions, we as political observers can visualize the ways a strong fundraising network can help determine who wins the race. The principles of network analysis taught in this class will help strengthen these conclusions.

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Hillary Clinton

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Bernie Sanders


By looking at each major zip code as a node and connecting them by edges, we see some candidates whose donor networks are highly concentrated, and some whose networks are widely spread out. For example, Hillary Clinton’s donors are highly concentrated, coastal, and based in three major metropolitan nodes. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has supporters from a more diverse group of states and cities. Which approach will be most successful? It will take some time to tell.

Ultimately, financial contributions alone will not determine who wins the 2016 election. However, this type of network analysis can increase our understanding of the American political process and how modern elections are affected by campaign contributions.



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September 2015