Back in 2008, the New York Times rolled out a campaign finance API so that you could easily access data based on Federal Election Commission filings. (If you’ve tried grabbing data direct from the source, you know this is a pain.) ProPublica took the reins a few days ago as we lead up to this year’s elections.
Like millions around the world, you’re probably like, “What the what? I thought the FEC released their own API recently!” They did. But:
One big difference is timeliness: the FEC API is updated nightly, while ours will be updated throughout each day. For many users of campaign finance data, that distinction may not be a big deal, but on filing days, when thousands of filings are submitted to the FEC, timeliness can matter a lot. Another is the source data: the FEC considers electronic filings to be “unofficial” in the sense that data from them is then brought into agency databases before being published as bulk data. The FEC API publishes data only from those official tables, while the ProPublica API has data from both the official tables and the raw electronic filings.
I’d trust the ProPublica one more for now.