Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Political Science *

Below are links to databases and scholarly web sites that support the study of political science and its related sub-disciplines.

Campaign Finance Data Sources

Listed below are resources that provide data and analysis of monetary donations in politics:

  • Campaign Finance Historical Data [copy and paste this link: http://www.cfinst.org/data/historicalstats.aspx] -- this think tank provides historical data on congressional and presidential election fundraising, expenditures, and party, interest group, and PAC spending. Tables and figures are in PDF and cover 1974 to the present, with many of the tables available in Excel. The Institute also produces research reports as well as a Money in Politics Bibliography covering academic literature back to 2006.
  • State Campaign Finance Index -- produced by the Campaign for Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, the index  analyzes the laws of fifty states and the District of Columbia relating to the scope, independence, and powers of state agencies which regulate campaign finance, as well as each state’s laws on campaign coordination, campaign contributions, disclosure of those contributions, requirements for transparency of funding of independent expenditures and political advertisements, and the availability of campaign finance information. The Index focuses on laws pertaining to state executive and legislative races.
  • Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections -- a general resource produced at Stanford University for the study of campaign finance and ideology in American politics. The database contains over 130 million political contributions made by individuals and organizations to local, state, and federal elections spanning a period from 1979 to 2014. A corresponding database of candidates and committees provides additional information on state and federal elections.
  • Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Data -- the site contains a variety of data files that will allow you to download itemized and trend data and filings for contributions and disbursements by and for candidates, committees, PACs, and independent expenditures. Bulk downloads of detailed data are available from an old FEC site. View actual financial disclosure reports filed by House, Senate and Presidential campaigns, Parties and PACs from 1993 to the present.
  • FollowTheMoney.org -- provides data and reports on money and spending in state-level politics. Covers campaign finance donations, spending by outside groups, and spending on ballot measures for all fifty states. You can view national or state overviews of spending; get breakdowns by district, candidate, party, industry, incumbency status, and more. The National Institute on Money in State Politics cleans, verified, and standardizes the data. Site also includes a helpful directory of State Disclosure Offices.
  • MapLight -- a nonpartisan research organization that connects data on campaign contributions in congressional elections, legislative votes by members of Congress, and which interest groups, companies, and organizations support and oppose key bills. The site also includes the Federal Money and Politics Dataset of cleaned up FEC campaign contribution data for each cycle 2008-present.
  • OpenSecrets.org -- supported by the Center for Responsive Politics, this is a comprehensive source for data freely available for non-commercial use on campaign finance at the federal level. Covers contributions to candidates and PACs; campaign spending by outside groups; lobbying and interest groups; personal finances of politicians and the revolving door of politicians to lobbyists; political ad buys; and more. Coverage from 1998 to the present.
  • State Campaign Finance Legislation Database -- produced by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this database contains state legislation related to campaign finance processes and reform. Bills found here deal with campaign contribution limits, disclosure requirements, independent expenditure requirements and other campaign finance-related issues from 2015 onward. Bill information for the current year is updated each Tuesday. To view bills from previous years, visit NCSL’s Campaign Finance Legislation Database 1999-2013 and Campaign Finance Legislation Database 2014.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites and from Jeremy Darrington's American Politics Research Guide, Princeton University Libraries.

Federal Campaign Finance Law

Listed below are databases and resources that support researching the legal and regulatory aspects of campaigning, lobbying, and running federal elections.

Databases

  • Campaign Finance Legislation -- created by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this database contains state legislation related to campaign finance processes and reform. Bills found here deal with campaign contribution limits, disclosure requirements, independent expenditure requirements and other campaign finance-related issues from 2015 onward. Bill information for the current year is updated weekly.
  • Federal Election Commission Legal Resources -- a search engine of the FEC that facilitates full access to relevant statutes, regulations, advisory opinions, Commission actions, and court cases. You can also search by document type. Closed Matters Under Review includes all cases dating back to 1977.
  • HeinOnline Law Journal Library  -- provides access to more than 3,000 searchable, pdf formatted legal and other disciplinary journals. Coverage is from the first issue published for all periodicals. Excellent resource for locating research studies concerning any aspect of campaign finance law and related issues. NOTE: Search results may also include a link to articles found in the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals database of multilingual law journals published outside of the U.S. the UK, and Canada.
  • Political Finance Database -- a repository of political finance regulations, the database provides country-specific data, which can be viewed for a single country or comparatively, allowing you to view the prevalence of different regulations and provisions between countries and regions, as well as customizing the search and downloading the data. Excellent source of international data. The database is maintained by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).

Federal Agencies

  • Election Assistance Commission (EAC) -- established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), this is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. The commission also accredits testing laboratories, certifies voting systems, and audits the use of HAVA funds.
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) -- an independent regulatory agency charged with administering and enforcing federal campaign finance law in the areas of public disclosure of funds raised and spent to influence federal elections, restrictions on contributions and expenditures made to influence federal elections, and public financing of presidential campaigns. The FEC only has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, Presidency, and the Vice Presidency.
  • Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) -- this agency works through partnerships with the Military Services, Department of State, Department of Justice, state election officials, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to ensure military service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources available to successfully do so.

Lobbying Disclosure Information

Below are the official sites for finding lobbying documents and information for all members of Congress, including incumbents seeking re-election.

  • House of Representatives Lobby Disclosure -- site of the House Office of the Clerk that provides up-to-date reporting of lobbyist activities required under the Lobbying Disclosure Electronic Filing System. Site includes the Lobbying Disclosure Electronic Filing System public access system covering reports from 2002 to the present.
  • United States Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Databasesdatabases created under requirements of the Secretary of the Senate to make all documents filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, as amended, available to the public. Note that the downloadable lobbying documents include all documents received during a given calendar quarter. The lobbying documents database includes the lobbying registrations (LD-1) and reports (LD-2). The contributions database is limited to the documents filed under section 203 of HLOGA (LD-203).

California Campaign Finance Resources

Listed below are resources concerning campaign finance, lobbying, and regulations specific to the state of California.

  • Cal-Access -- provides financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, and others. Begin by selecting either Campaign Finance Activity, Lobbying Activity, or Cal-Access Resources and those pages will guide you to the information. Content is updated daily.
  • California Campaign Financing Search Engine [copy and paste this link: http://powersearch.sos.ca.gov/quick-search.php] -- search page that facilitates tracking campaign money by categories, including elected official, geography, date range, ballot measure, and by contributors. Also includes data summary information.
  • Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) -- this agency hears complaints alleging violations of campaign finance laws. Its mission is to promote the integrity of state and local government in California through fair, impartial interpretation, and enforcement of political campaign, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws.
  • Political Reform Division, Secretary of State -- administers provisions of California's Political Reform Act, including the law's most fundamental purpose of ensuring that "receipts and expenditures in election campaigns should be fully and truthfully disclosed in order that the voters may be fully informed and the activities of lobbyists should be regulated and their finances disclosed...." The site includes access to information in support of provisions of California's Political Reform Act of 1974, which requires the disclosure of financial activities related to political campaigns and lobbying.
  • Secretary of State -- official website for the office of Secretary of State. Includes drop-down menus to information on elections and campaigns and lobbying.

Research Centers and Advocacy Organizations

Described below are organizations that research campaign finance issues or advocate for specific policies related to transparency and regulating money in politics.

  • Brennan Center for Justice -- an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization that works to reform, revitalize, and when necessary, defend systems of democracy and justice in the United States. The Center also conducts rigorous research to identify problems and provide in-depth empirical findings and compelling analyses of pressing legal and policy issues, including those related to campaign finance.
  • Campaign Legal Center -- an organization committed to advancing democracy through law at the federal, state and local levels, advocating for every American’s rights to responsive government, and a fair opportunity to participate in and affect the democratic process.
  • Center for Public Integrity -- seeks to counter the corrosive effects of inequality by holding powerful interest groups accountable and equipping the public with knowledge to drive change. It is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit news organization dedicated to investigating systems and circumstances that contribute to inequality in our country, including those brought about by money in politics.
  • Council on Governmental Ethics Laws -- a professional organization for government agencies and other organizations working in ethics, elections, freedom of information, lobbying, and campaign finance. Membership is drawn principally from governmental agencies and interested individuals in the United States and Canada, with some European, Australian, and Latin American
  • Center for Political Accountability -- a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for corporate political disclosure and accountability and seeks to ensure that companies act in ways that are in accord with the values of the company, their shareholders and the principles of our nation.
  • Issue One -- a cross-partisan reform group devoted to protecting U.S. elections, lessen political polarization, limit the influence of big money over politics, and improve the ability of Congress to solve problems around these issues. These efforts are driven by a bipartisan coalition of nearly 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials.
  • Move to Amend -- a non-partisan coalition of organizations committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests. Central to its mission in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is supporting an amendment to the Constitution that firmly establishes that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures -- founded in 1975, this bipartisan organization represents legislatures in the states, territories, and commonwealths of the United States. Its mission is to advance the effectiveness, independence, and integrity of legislative bodies and to foster interstate cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information among legislatures.
  • Open Secrets -- a nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The organization's mission is to track the flow of money in American politics and provide the data and analysis to strengthen democracy.
  • Vote Smart -- formerly Project Smart Vote, this organization's mission is to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials. The work includes providing information about campaign finances and interest group ratings.