On the day before Thanksgiving the White House provided its latest update to their file of visitors: link. You’ll recall that one month ago they released the first of this data, and TargetPoint was quick to take the opportunity to ply its trade and extract meaningful knowledge and insight from this dump of “dumb” data: link.
This updated dataset is both wider and deeper, encompassing more records (2,096) over a longer period of time (Inauguration Day through August 31st). Nonetheless, the same limitations from before apply:
- Rather than containing all visitors to the White House, this dataset only contains records that people have specifically requested, thus we begin with a sample biased towards “celebrity” visitors.
- As a result of this bias, we end up with a number of “false-positives” in which someone that shares a name with a famous person (i.e. Jeremiah Wright), is included in the data despite the fact the actual famous person never visited.
So again, despite these limitations, let’s see what insight we can extract from this data.
MOST FREQUENT VISITOR
The most frequent visitor in this database is Lee Sachs (or Lewis Sachs), a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In the first seven months of the Obama administration Sachs visited the White House a stunning 92 times, averaging a visit about every 2 days.
His visits break down as follows:
39 Diana Farrell, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
22 Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council
9 Bryan Jung, Special Assistant to the Director
7 Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff
3 Avra Siegel, Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant to the President
1 James Kvaal, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
1 Margaret Weiss (?)
1 Marne Levine, Chief of Staff of the National Economic Council
1 Pete Rouse, Senior Adviser to the President
1 Sandy Daigle (?)
Descriptions are provided for very few of these visits - only 5 of the 92 visits contain descriptions ranging from the generic “meeting” and “briefing” to “Econ Regulators Meeting.”
After Sachs, the second most frequent visitor is an enigma: one Richard F. Davis who visited the White House 49 times. Presumably, a record request was put in for Richard Davis, CEO of Bancorp, a financial services holding company; but this Davis’ middle initial is “K”, whereas our second most frequent visitor is an “F.” Unfortunately, this is a frustratingly difficult to Google name, and our search has yet to turn up a meaningful hit. Of those 49 times, 31 of them were a visit with Astri Kimball, the Deputy Director of Cabinet Affairs, and another 10 visits were with Ben Milakofsky, another employee in the Office of Cabinet Affairs.
Other top visitors of note are:
47 Julius Genachowski, head of FCC (see this for why this could be a problem)
35 Thomas Perrelli, Associate Attorney General
37 Spencer Overton, Dep. Assiss. Attorney General
27 Jeanne Lambrew, Dep. Director of Office of Health Reform
25 Robert Wolf, UBS CEO (but the name is generic enough to include false positives)
24 John Podesta, Co-Chair of the Transition
23 Andrew Stern, President of the SEIU
MOST FREQUENTLY VISITED
The most frequently visited person is President Barack Obama, appearing as the visitee in 12% of the records (253 out of 2,096). He is followed by the Visitor’s Office, through which tours must enter. After these two obvious leaders, the most frequently visited person in this sample is Ezekiel Emanuel, Special Advisor for Health Policy to Peter Orszag, Director of the OMB, with 125 meetings, indicating the great amount of time and attention given by this administration to health care reform. Interestingly, those meetings are not concentrated among a core subset of individuals – no one person in this dataset met with Emanuel more than two times.
Other frequent visitees of note were:
82 Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs
82 Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff
75 Nancy Deparle, the Health Care “Czar”
74 David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President
63 Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
41 Diana Farrell, Deputy Director National Economic Council
40 Peter Orszag, Director of OMB
37 Max Doebler, Ceremonies Coordinator
37 Tina Tchen, Special Assistant to Valerie Jarrett
34 Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
MOST FREQUENT COMBINATIONS
We can also look at the most frequently occurring visitor/visitee combinations in order to establish any recurring patterns. They are as follows:
39 Lee Sachs and Diana Farrell
31 Richard F. Davis and Astri Kimball
22 Lee Sachs and Larry Summers
14 Jeanne Lambrew and Phil Schiliro
10 Jeanne Lambrew and Nancy Deparle
8 Thomas Perelli and Cassandra Butts
VISUALIZING THE MEETINGS
Once again, we’ve chosen a Phrase Net to visualize the data. A phrase net diagrams the relationship between words used in a text. Our text consists of “X met w/ Y” and these relationships are mapped. Names in dark blue are visitors, and names in light blue are the person in the White House the meeting was with. The default setting below displays the top 30 (of 1,105) terms – however, this number, along with the zoom level, is fully interactive.
Again, though this analysis is fascinating, it is not completely revealing. We await with great anticipation the release of a full dataset in approximately a month’s time.
- Alex Lundry