One chart shows exactly how much America's biggest companies give to Republicans and Democrats

Let Me Finish: Big Money in Politics

By Ben Taylor for Graphiq

Politics is often compared to sports, with star performers, established fan bases and players on each team. Matt Damon wears blue; Mel Gibson wears red. Rachel Maddow cheers on progressives; Sean Hannity roots for conservatives.

It's tempting to play the same game with companies. Defense contractors like Northrop Grumman surely support pro-military Republicans, while organic grocery stores like Whole Foods must be in the bag for Team Blue. Or are they?

FindTheCompany and InsideGov teamed up to analyze data from the Center for Responsive Politics to see where America's biggest corporations stand. Specifically, we looked at political donations from 2002 to 2015, then color-coded the results in the chart below.

Note that the totals include money from individual employees, company-owned political action committees and, in some cases, the treasury of the company itself. The chart does not include "dark money," which is funneled through nonprofits that aren't required to report key details publicly.

A final complicating factor is individual versus organizational contributing. In Time Warner's case, the majority of contributions come from individuals, while ExxonMobil is the mirror opposite, with over 75 percent of contributions coming from company-sponsored PACs.

At Time Warner, it's unclear whether there's an intentional political strategy at work. With ExxonMobil, however, political contributing seems much more closely tied to company strategy, as the corporation intentionally moves mountains of cash toward conservative super PACs.

Still, even this sort of analysis involves a fair level of speculation. For every one thing we do know about campaign finance, there are two or three things we don't. How much do the executives at each company influence the overall contributing patterns? How much money is funneled through so-called dark money groups?

As fun as it is to assign teams, company political contributing is far more complicated than a schoolyard game of basketball. The U.S. political landscape might still be a two-party system, but America's biggest corporations are playing a sneakier, more convoluted game. The data says that jerseys come in many colors, and none of them are 100 percent red or blue.

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One chart shows exactly how much America's biggest companies give to Republicans and Democrats

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York (D)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R)

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former CEO, Businesswoman Carly Fiorina of California (R)

(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Former New York Governor George Pataki (R)

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (R)

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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