Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and coffee snob

Tag: Politics

A close-up on a stack of US currency

Steal This Idea: Campaign Contribution Visualizer

In the same vein as my idea for a Social Media Analyzer tool, my interest in politics also brought up another question: why isn’t there an easy way to see who — at a local level — is supporting different candidates?

Legally, political campaigns have to disclose who their donors are. After all, money often buys influence, and an elected officials’ constituents have the right to know for whom their representative might be working.

Naturally, there are all kinds of sneaky ways to get around these rules (search “dark money” for more on that topic), but at the local-level it’s good to know who has the ear of your local representative.

In the state of Ohio, we have a rather simple system where raw campaign contribution data is available for downloading and searching, but there isn’t an easy way to see (for instance) what counties are supporting which candidates.

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An aisle overflowing with books

Steal This Idea: Social Media Analyzer

After the 2018 mid-term elections proved to be rather disappointing for the state of Ohio, I toyed with the idea of running for public office. It’s still not something I’ve ruled out, but the emotions it all stirred up got me thinking about campaign-oriented technology.

I started thinking about what tools might benefit a younger, progressive candidate and I realized that social media can be a tremendous asset or a tremendous liability.

People my age (early 30s) are the first ones to really enter adulthood in the age of social media; I joined Facebook when it was first rolling out to select Universities, and had been blogging and on MySpace throughout high school.

Unfortunately, when you put yourself into the public eye, you must expect some level of scrutiny. Old Tweets posts will be dug up, tagged photos will be scrutinized, and Facebook posts from your 21st birthday will be surfaced. If you’re not doing this research ahead of time, you can be damn sure your opposition will.

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