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IRE assists in tracking Clinton, McCain donors

A great deal of the news coverage surrounding this week's Democratic National Convention touched on whether the party could recover from a close primary election between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Articles focused on the desire from the Obama campaign to reach out to Clinton supporters, and whether a rift remained in the party.

But ABC News decided to dig a little deeper. They reasoned: campaign finance records are, of course, public -- can we use them to take a look at Clinton supporters who may not be so enthused with Obama's nomination?

ABC Reporter Marcus Baram knew that both Clinton's donor list and the most recent electronic filings from the Obama and McCain campaigns could be cross-referenced to get an idea of how many donors were either sticking with the new Democratic candidate or shifting over to support McCain.

Although on the surface that may be straightforward, the data for processed FEC filings is kept in a slightly different format than the more raw electronic filings which are posted on the FEC's site shortly after they are submitted by the campaigns.

Needing to save time, Baram contacted the NICAR Database Library for assistance. The result is an insightful look at how a reporter following the money showed, rather than simply told, how some of Clinton's donors were switching sides.

- Jeremy Milarsky

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