#NeverTrump: The Candidates are On Board, but What About the SuperPACs?

By Judy Chang, Iris Fung, and Eric Lau

The data say that SuperPACs supporting non-Trump candidates are more interested in attacking other non-Trump candidates than Donald Trump. We want to tell this story because it stands in stark contrast to the #NeverTrump movement.

The news is dominated by the 2016 election, specifically by the negativity of the candidates’ campaigns. One of the chief contributors to this negativity are SuperPACs, which wield unlimited political spending power in support of their favored candidate. We focused on exploring the data behind the SuperPAC efforts directed against Republican front-runner Donald Trump. So far, Trump has been the focus of concerted verbal attacks by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the televised debates. However, after exploring the Political TV Ad Archive’s dataset in Tableau, we found that this did not hold true in SuperPAC advertising. For example, the majority of the ‘con’ ads were purchased against Rubio and sponsored by Right to Rise, a SuperPAC supporting Jeb Bush. This was surprising. For all the talk of the Republican establishment’s dislike of Trump, the data suggested that there was even more internal discord among themselves.

We wanted to express this disconnect between the aforementioned intent and execution in an intuitive way. To do this, we built a hybrid infographic/interactive chart/article. Text snippets guide the viewer. A smaller bar graph shows current delegate numbers from the Associated Press. This recognizable, friendly graphic eases the viewer into a more technical chord diagram, which is not a commonly seen chart format and requires the reader to spend more time on it to understand the relevant relationships. We chose the chord diagram over a normal bar graph, because the directional arrows and arrangement of candidates around the circle connoted the feisty conflict of the campaign. Our infographic article combines humor and data to give the reader a non-obvious insight on the Republican race.

Check it out here!