Did a little work this evening adding animation to the project. Again, check it out at here. Press any key to watch the data points animate between two states: a basic overview state and a scatter plot state. All the data is still placeholder data, and the rollover text at the top is mainly just for testing purposes. In any case, I’ve got the animation working and now will be able to move the data points between states rather elegantly. Of course, animation lends itself to historical data, since the passage of time maps to, well, the passage of time quite well. GovTrack will be my primary source for historical data, but I’m still looking for others.
I spent the another few hours this evening poking through data. The source data at GovTrack is proving invaluable, and I will rely heavily on this source. I still have to figure out what to do with the XML format though… either I’m going to change from accessing SQL to using these XML files, or I will convert all the XML files I use into CSVs and import them to my database. GovTrack DOES provide political spectrum data, which is a huge boon, though it only goes back to 100th congress. It also contains a “leader-follower” score, a derived statistic based upon bill sponsorship. More info on the methodology for these statistics here.
I’ve all but abandoned the idea of using the Cook PVI scores to track political spectrum data, because I would have to purchase a very expensive subscription in order to access this data. I spent more time poking through lobbying data, but unfortunately it’s hard to draw connections between this information and individual legislators. I’m still considering the earmark data because it’s relatively easy to tie to individual legislators, and it has some great numerical data points (and it goes back a few years).
My main issue still remains: What to focus on? What story will I tell? Earmarks might be the way to go…