The record-shattering fundraising by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has reshaped the financing of presidential elections and generated breathless coverage and analysis of the otherwise arcane area of campaign finance.
Yet it’s had another consequence that has gone all but unnoticed. The campaign finance reports filed by Obama and Clinton have grown so massive that they’ve strained the capacity of the Federal Election Commission, good government groups, the media and even software applications to process and make sense of the data.
A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.
Those programs can’t download data files with more than 65,536 rows or 256 columns.