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Political Data

What Is Political Data?

Political data and governmental data encompasses all data about governments and political actors, from the macro level (international) to the micro level (local). The data measures data on national security, lobbyists, national spending and debt, trade agreements, historical treaties, government benefits programs, and more.

Where Does Political Data Come From?

This data comes from government records and policies as well as international organizations and research institutions. Third parties may also conduct their own polls and surveys.

What Types of Columns/Attributes Should I Expect When Working with This Data?

Most of this data comes in the form of tables that show dates and regions, though maps are also common. They also include data from government and third-party sources, especially census data.

Additionally, these datasets show a diversity of granularity. Some datasets, for example, list party registration by county and demographics (sex, race, income bracket). Other datasets, meanwhile, are more broad, such as corruption indices by country.

What Is This Data Used For?

Governments use this data to make internal policy decisions as well as diplomatic or trade decisions. Ambassadors and consulates also find various aspects of this data category useful in the performance of their duties.

Additional users of political data include commercial companies and investors looking to expand into a new market. Other companies, like travel agencies, use this data to measure risks of doing their businesses in different countries, or different areas of foreign countries.

How Should I Test the Quality of Political Data?

Some political data sources are trustworthy, such as primary sources like regulations and treaties. Other measurements—surveys and polls in particular—have been shown to be very difficult to measure. However, diligent poll sampling and interviewing can mitigate these inaccuracies.

Interesting Case Studies and Blogs to Look Into

Statista: Politics and Government Database
University of Zurich: Comparative Political Data Set

Tangible Examples of Impact

American professional sports owners have contributed nearly $47 million in federal elections since 2015, according to research by ESPN in partnership with FiveThirtyEight, including $10 million to Republican causes and $1.9 million to Democratic causes so far in the 2020 election cycle.

ESPN: Election 2020: Inside the political donation history of wealthy sports owners

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