This Week in Data: 2012 Presidential Campaign Disbursements


If you’re like the vast majority of the U.S. population, you’ve probably seen all the 2016 presidential campaign coverage you can take. So, we decided to do a little throwback to the tamer days of the 2012 election. Remember Obama vs. Romney?

This week we’re digging into disbursements made by presidential campaigns for the 2012 election cycle, compliments of the Federal Election Commission. This dataset contains 170,679 rows of data on expenditures by the Obama and Romney campaigns (and several more for independent candidates), covering everything from travel and trail mix to text messaging fees. So. Many. Receipts.

Snacks on snacks on snacks

Turns out, everyone really does run on Dunkin.

OBAMA: $2,124.49
ROMNEY: $2,928.52

But when it comes to Starbucks, camp Romney takes the pumpkin spice latte.

OBAMA: $518.06
ROMNEY: $2,290.89

Pizza Box

Despite different political opinions, looks like both campaigns were united under the pizza party.   Although, I guess Domino’s sells chicken now too.

OBAMA: $3,187.98
ROMNEY: $11,020.31

As for the go to spot to one-stop shop, camp Obama was all about Costco. They must have really really liked those little samples.

OBAMA: $35,556.59
ROMNEY: $3,976.87

Plane Wing

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Both campaigns earned some serious frequent flier miles. Here’s a breakdown of travel spend by airline:

Airline Spend

When they weren’t flying, camp Obama spent a lot of time on the road—and a lot of money on gas.

OBAMA: $262,767.78
ROMNEY: $21,875.54

Both camps spent about the same on Amtrak. Kind of makes you wonder how many times they were on the same train together.

OBAMA: $26,315.49
ROMNEY: $19,225.60

More than 15 minutes (and millions) of fame

It’s probably no surprise that paid media placement made up a huge portion of each budget. But fame certainly comes with a hefty price tag.

OBAMA: $397,926,007
ROMNEY: $190,118,695

And while President Obama was getting some serious air time, the Romney campaign was making sure they owned a GoDaddy domain for everything you could possibly think to search.

OBAMA: $9,310.11
ROMNEY: $25,055.84

Curious about the rest of the expense reports? Hop on over to Enigma Public and take a peek into the data yourself!