Which Companies Dominate Your State’s Politics?

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This post originally appeared in Mother Jones.

Voters across America are heading to the polls today for state and local elections, and just like in federal elections, big business has been writing big checks to campaigns across the country. To follow the money in your state, see which industry topped the list of campaign contributions in the last election cycle:

Using data from www.FollowTheMoney.org, we mapped which industries gave the most to state-level campaign donors for the 2012 election (ballot initiatives and party PACs excluded) and limited our search to the top business in each state. We also excluded unions, law firms and nonprofits, since political giving from these entities can be associated with a variety of industries.

It’s important to note that many contributions are made by individuals and an individual donor’s industry or occupation is not necessarily connected to their giving. We could expect gifts under the category of “Health,” for instance, to include both donations from hospital chains and the personal contributions of doctors and nurses.

To make the map easier to read, we grouped related industries under a single color. “Real Estate” for instance, includes donations by individuals and groups connected to both construction and the sale of buildings.

*In California and Maryland, we have included the industry with the second-highest total of contributions, because the designation of the top industries in those states requires additional reporting.

Alex Park is a recent graduate of the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His work has been published in PBS/MediaShift, New America Media, allAfrica.com, Time.com, and the Believer, with work forthcoming in Foreign Policy.
Tasneem Raja is MoJo’s Interactive Editor. She specializes in web app production, interactive graphics, and user interface design. Before joining Mother Jones, she was an interactive producer at The Bay Citizen. Before crossing over to the dark side, she was a features reporter and copyeditor at The Chicago Reader.
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  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see an overlay of this with how well each state is currently doing financially and how each state is projected over the next decade.

  • Ascend Asheville

    I looked at this map overlaid with a map of states without insurance exchanges. No surprise. Where health dominates, the participation in ACA goes down.

  • Anonymous

    Where’s food and agriculture?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=689913316 B Cayenne Bird

    Thanks for the map. In our state of California, the CCPOA and other law enforcement labor unions have put in most of the lawmakers. Brown received $2.2 million from CCPOA during his last run and who knows how many other donations through their storefront “subsidiaries” since.

  • Anonymous

    Really? I thought MN was all about the medical. Perhaps some of that, like the med tech companies counted as tech. There’s a swarth of MN that’s called Medical Alley.

  • user xyyyz

    what’s telling is how little manufacturing there is in the US these days and therefore so little influence compared to the Energy, RE and Health related economies. I’m wondering where Armaments production fits into this map. It doesn’t show but those bombers, subs, aircraft carriers all need equipment and maintenance parts plus the production of new equipment and research.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a liberal but you lost me on this story , when you excluded unions and I’m also a retired union Carpenter .

  • Jason

    Because Unions didn’t write the biggest checks. That’s a fact. Sorry it upsets you so…

  • Jason

    Strangely enough, the states where “health dominates” also have some of the highest rates of uninsured in the country.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not upset , Its just that no one should be able to write , ‘ any check ‘ , They’re all lobbyist with a $ , special interest .

  • Anonymous

    Since 2001 , 5 million American manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to China and than we ask , What happened to Detroit ? They blame the failure of Detroit on the Democrats , the unions . I blame the failure of Detroit on the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs to the third world for cheap labor , profit and GREED .

  • Jason

    Moyers could have picked on the Unions, but is it necessary, they aren’t even all that powerful anymore. Their power has declined considerably in the last 20 years. Frankly, they’re irrelevant. They are as relevant to this conversation as the NSA.

  • Jason

    This I agree with!

  • Veteran

    the only powerful union that is politicians support is their own and lobbyists.

  • Mark Van Order

    Amazes me how many of the commenters miss the point of this article and the attached map. It’s not about which industry dominates in your state–it’s about which industry donates the most to political campaigns. The contributions by public and private unions could in no way compete with the corporate donations.

  • Ascend Asheville

    I haven’t seen any factual information to back that up. A lot of screaming on the right, and a lot of legislative action against unions in general and public sector unions in particular, but I suspect that is because they are an easy target and a “good” example to make for the party faithful. The union equivalent of welfare queens.

  • http://follow-my-bliss.blogspot.com/ misfitina

    I’d say Health is becoming a big player in WV as well.

  • Anonymous

    How does union paying jobs, which offer living wages and taxpaying employees drain the taxpayer dry? These people contribute to their own retirement accounts, qualify for tax paying brackets, have purchasing power within your community, and typically do not have to utilize state aide to live on.

    I would say your non-union jobs, such as Walmart employees, where the CEO”s campaign heavily for not paying fair business/personal taxes drain your pocket book faster. It has been proven over and over again that, corporate welfare for these and like businesses, as well as the need to subsidize their employees with public assistance will consistently drain a community’s coffers and lower the economic viability of that community.

    I think perhaps you are being victimized by the very political propaganda which pays for those messages to vilify a union worker and get you to vote against your own best interests.

  • Luis Hernandez

    Finance is also big in Delaware.

  • Joe Sullivan

    Pick up that thing over there. Yeah, that one. Lift it. See that “Made in China” stamp. You’re catching on. Too many major manufacturers have exported their jobs overseas.

  • Laura Burgett

    This is one of the most useful graphics I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you for putting it together. As you know, 2/3 of Utah’s State Legislature is comprised of (infested with) real estate developers. Right now, they are pushing to relocate our State Prison. Never mind that the Prison was there first, but the legislator that introduced the bill wants to develop his land near the prison. Utah’s entire government is so damn crooked.

  • Anonymous

    This is extremely oversimplified, in some cases misleading in significant ways. And in some cases inaccurate. For instance in Hawaii, real estate doesn’t dominate politics ,construction does. Someone might be categorizing development projects as Real Estate ,but it is specifically construction that buys legislative votes.

  • Anonymous

    Also in many cases corruption means that the money that effects actual legislation is not on the books as campaign donations.

  • Eisenhower_Dwight_D_USA

    WRONG. Without Real Estate development, there is ZERO construction. We own land in Hawaii and have for many years. Look at the shutdown of the DOLE plantations 15 years ago, and big Dairies on the Islands. ALL motivated by REAL ESTATE speculation. Jobs and Native Hawaiians thrown out the window to the Mainland. What do you think motivated that? Construction? No REAL ESTATE. Believe me, I know. Firsthand. We have owned land in Hawaii for years.

  • Anonymous

    Massachusetts hasn’t had significant manufacturing in decades.

  • Eisenhower_Dwight_D_USA

    WRONG. Without Real Estate development, there is ZERO construction. We own land in Hawaii and have for many years. Look at the shutdown of the DOLE plantations 15 years ago, and big Dairies on the Islands. ALL motivated by REAL ESTATE speculation. Jobs and Native Hawaiians thrown out the window to the Mainland. What do you think motivated that? Construction? No REAL ESTATE. Believe me, I know. Firsthand. We have owned land in Hawaii for years.

    QUOTE: To follow the money in your state, see which industry topped the list of campaign contributions in the last election cycle:

  • Kyle Pratt

    Alaska would be energy

  • http://tanglesandwebs.blogspot.com/ Annie Stratton

    I’m afraid this story/graphic lost me. The categories are not defined and can be interpreted in multiple ways. Even the authors don’t seem to have a good idea of what is what. For instance, Does “health” include insurance companies, which have a disproportionate influence on legislative action having anything to do with health, including social programs.. How does the health insurance industry (huge) stack up against “contributions from doctors and hospitals”? I think this one needs to go back to the beginning and start over, beginning with some thought about what the categories are and what they mean.

  • steve-annie

    Finance in Maine, but real estate in New York? Really??

  • SBandit

    What in the world is going on in nebraska that telecom wants?

  • Anonymous

    Health insurance and drug companies give the most money to politicians in those particular states to influence the way politicians vote in order to affect THEIR bottom line. In this time of the President’s new Health Care plan starting, insurance companies are putting out the BRIBE money to get their pocket politicians to try to stamp out REAL health care. Sounds pretty straight forward to me.

  • Alison ColbyCampbell

    I don’t understand the reason behind calling things “Categories” if the point is to show the ONE business in the state that donates the most. You might as well just name the company rather than give the impression that “real estate” or “manufacturing” companies are aggregating their political and monetary strength in a state. I only wish we in MA had hundreds/thousands of manufacturing companies vying for political favor, because that would mean we had hundreds/thousands of manufacturing companies.

    Also, is this sentence accurate: “gave the most to state-level campaign donors for the 2012 election”? Gave the most to donors??

  • Anonymous

    Often business groups are in collusion. Oil and real estate development have common, often nefarious, interests.