A dataset analysis of pre-primary contributions to 11 different local campaigns for Ann Arbor elected office confirms some clear patterns among the donors. The primary election will be held Aug. 5, 2014.
The dataset was compiled by The Chronicle after the Friday, July 25 deadline for filing campaign finance reports. It includes contributions to the 2014 mayoral Democratic primary campaigns for the four candidates – Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman – as well as contributions to Democratic city council primary campaigns of seven candidates in three wards: Don Adams and Sumi Kailasapathy in Ward 1; Nancy Kaplan and Kirk Westphal in Ward 2; and Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen in Ward 3.
Contributors to those 11 campaigns appear to perceive city council candidates Don Adams, Kirk Westphal and Julie Grand as aligned with mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor – as well as with each other. And judged by their donations, contributors appear to perceive city council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy, Nancy Kaplan and Bob Dascola as politically similar to each other – and to some extent politically similar to mayoral candidates Sabra Briere and Stephen Kunselman.
Those conclusions are based on the 1,278 individual contributions totaled across all the campaigns (517 for city council races and 761 for the mayoral race). The Chronicle counted at least 312 contributions that were made by people who gave to more than one of the campaigns. Those 312 contributions came from 99 different people. Not typical of the contributions were those of 22nd circuit court candidate Veronique Liem, who gave money to seven of the 11 campaigns, including all four mayoral candidates.
The Chronicle also tagged donors in the dataset as current or past members of public bodies – like the city council, the city planning commission and the Ann Arbor District Library board. That exercise revealed that every current member of the library board made at least one contribution to mayoral or council campaigns. Taylor received contributions from five of seven library board members and Briere from one. Westphal received contributions from three library board members.
Stephen Kunselman has campaigned in part based on his endorsements from four current city councilmembers – all of whom contributed money to his campaign. Ward 2 council candidate Nancy Kaplan received contributions from the same four, plus a former councilmember.
When former councilmembers are included in the count, Taylor received contributions from a total of seven. Briere received contributions from four former councilmembers. Among council candidates, Westphal received the most contributions from current and former councilmembers – a total of seven.
The Chronicle initially compiled the set of data – for three city council races and the mayor’s race – in order to generate analyses of geographic trends and distribution of amounts that have been contributed to each campaign. Those analyses are presented in previous coverage: “Council Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps” and “Mayoral Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps.”
The dataset should be viewed with the caveat that data entry was done manually from scanned documents generated by the campaigns, so they include a range of spelling variants and other minor inconsistencies. In addition, The Chronicle’s institutional knowledge about donors’ background, even when combined with online research, is imperfect. Some donors in various categories might have been missed.
Below we present some of the patterns of contributions made by donors to the campaigns.