Partner Frequently Asked Questions
- How important is it to effectively balance elections and legislative lobbying?
- How important are party primaries in electing members of Congress and state legislators?
- How can our organization increase our chance of winning more elections?
- How does iVoterGuide multiply the number of races impacted by each voter?
- How does iVoterGuide enhance and increase a partner organization’s database?
- How comprehensive is iVoterGuide’s research of candidates?
- How broad a scope of races does iVoterGuide cover?
- How carefully are candidates evaluated to determine their likely philosophy?
- How much does it cost to use iVoterGuide under our brand name?
- How many panels do you have evaluating the candidates?
- When do the panels meet?
- What response rate do you get from candidates on the issue survey?
Emphasizing Elections Increases Legislative Success: If Christians and conservatives will have any chance of achieving monumental goals like restoring religious liberty, right to life, sanctity of marriage, fiscal sanity, border security, national defense and a secure Israel, whatever time and resources are available must be used in the most effective manner possible.
Conservative organizations need to be sure their priorities are in optimum order. With Congress in session almost full time, most organizations’ highest priority seems to be passing/killing legislation or approving/blocking someone’s nomination. Assume they spend 75% on Congressional activities, 15% on elections and 10% on fundraising.
Perhaps it is time to consider readjusting these priorities and reallocate resources to something like 50% on Congressional activities, 40% on elections and 10% on fundraising. What impact could this have?
Consider that every governmental problem that occurs can be traced back to an election. Elections determine:
- The President who signs/vetoes legislation and nominates federal judges
- The Senators who pass/kill legislations and confirm federal judges
- The Congress who passes/kills legislation
Our elected officials fall into three categories.
- By electing more who share our values, the less time and money is needed to lobby and persuade them.
- When staff lobbyists contact those with “squishy” values, they will be more receptive knowing that conservative voters are being mobilized in their district.
- There will be fewer elected who oppose our values.
Emphasizing elections means winning more elections which increases legislative success, membership and donations.
So, perhaps conservative organizations would increase their Congressional influence if they told their supporters/members that the highest priority of a member is to vote wisely every two years in the party primary where 80% of legislators are determined because of gerrymandering … even before they make a donation, contact their legislator, attend a conference or sign a petition.
Every 10 years when the census is taken, state legislatures reapportion the districts of the US House of Representatives. In almost every state, the political party which controls the state legislature will gerrymander legislative districts for the U.S. House, state Senate and the State House to maximize the number of seats the majority party will control. This results in almost every seat being specifically drawn to be represented by a Democrat or Republican. As a result, the legislator who ends up representing the district is actually determined in the primary of the party for which that district was drawn. Therefore, the November general election is almost inconsequential as far as electing legislators is concerned. The turnout for political party primaries typically ranges from 10 – 15%, which means that often 5% is a majority.
Because so few voters care enough or know enough to vote in party primaries, the opportunity to succeed or the peril fail is significant. Members of Congress can be elected with as few as 25,000 votes out of 500,000 registered voters. State legislators can be elected with as few as 5,000 votes out of 100,000 voters.
By educating your members to understand that the very most important action they can take to impact your organization’s goals is to vote, your organization can fairly easily provide the razor thin margin of victory for a candidate, especially in primaries. Imagine the impact of being able to tell a legislator that you have a list of the 100 – 500 names and addresses of voters who provided their margin of victory. Think they might be willing to visit with your staff lobbyists?
Most voters lack reliable information about candidates because their sources tend to be biased news media or the candidates themselves. By providing your members comprehensive and unbiased information, you will be encouraging them to vote by giving them confidence to do so wisely.
When two or three organizations with similar values become partners and use iVoterGuide in a particular state, the chances of success are even greater.
When your members use “your voter guide” to cast a ballot based on their personal voting address, they will often impact between 5 and 20 races ranging from statewide offices to legislative seats. This is because when a voter uses iVoterGuide they aren’t getting information on a single candidate, but every federal, statewide, and state legislative (in certain states) candidate on their ballot. You’re affecting ALL those races with each iVoterGuide user, an average of 10 races per user.
A major reason as many as 80% of voters do not vote in party primaries is because they cannot find valid information on the candidates and do not realize how important primaries are. If your organization emphasizes primaries and becomes known as the “go to source” for comprehensive, unbiased candidate information, your organization will attract more of these high-value voters. The ability to personalize their ballot to see only the candidates for their address, will encourage them to put in their voting address. This feature will also attract more voters to your website and enable you to capture email addresses, voting addresses and in many cases their names.
Our researchers compile information from the following areas. (see images at the end of the document)
- Vote Ratings – we go to over 300 organizations, both liberal and conservative, who evaluate legislators and enter ratings for every legislator. We use both nation-wide organizations as well as state organizations to gather ratings of both federal and state candidates.
- Campaign finance data for all federal candidates – millions of records from the FEC are processed to identify any donations given or received by federal candidates.
- Virtual Vote Ratings (vote ratings credited to legislators who have received or given donations to a candidate are attributed to the candidate)
- Endorsements from about 300 organizations, both liberal and conservative, as well as those reported by the candidate
- Candidate issue survey – a carefully chosen list of questions is sent to every candidate, and we follow up to make sure we are reaching the candidate and encouraging them to complete the survey. Every partner gets input on the questions we ask all the candidates. There are separate survey’s based on the type of office: federal, legislative, judicial, state education. A partner may choose to exclude questions from their individually branded voter guide to only reflect the issues important to them.
In the 2014 primaries, we researched 1,971 candidates and were able to gather at least one piece of data on 67% of the candidates. We consider a ‘piece of data’ to be one endorsement, one scorecard, a complete survey, one contribution received, or one contribution given.
For State candidates we get an amazing number with at least one item of data. It ranges from 41% to 100% with an average of 80%!
We evaluated 1007 state level candidates and had data on 80% of them. We had data on 54% of the 964 federal candidates.
We cover the federal races in all 50 states.
We cover the statewide and state legislative races in states with a current state partner, including any statewide judicial races. States with state partners for the 2015-2016 cycle currently are FL, IL, IN, KY, OH, PA, TX, WA, and WI. Partners have the option of including statewide constitutional amendments or propositions on their voter guide. Each race we cover includes all the information listed above.
We carefully vet volunteers (usually affiliated with or representatives of our partners) to make sure they align with our values. These panelists are grouped into panels of 3-5 individuals who will each evaluate the same 20-40 candidates. They are trained in how to dive deep into all the information we provide (see #6 above) as well as using their local knowledge (we seek panelists in the states of the candidates), searching their websites, etc. After each panelist has determined their individual rating, they gather together to review the same candidates and reach a consensus evaluation of how they think the candidate will perform in office using a 7-point scale from Very Conservative to Very Liberal.
iVoterGuide desires to work with partners, both national and state, to provide their members with comprehensive voting information. The cost to become a National Partner for 2016 – 2017 is:
- Option 1: $9,500 plus optional captured data at $.30/user per year ($49,700 cap)
- Option 2: $39,500 with unlimited captured data
The cost to become a State Partner for 2016-2017 is:
- Option 1: $2,900 plus optional captured data at $.30/user per year ($11,700 cap)
- Option 2: $9,500 with unlimited captured data
For all our state partners, we include coverage of their state’s statewide and state legislative races. We provide all our partners with a comprehensive, individually branded, online voter guide. We even create a unique URL for each partner, if they desire. Because a user has to enter their address and email to see their individual ballot, we are able to pass that information back to the partner, growing their database with individuals who show they are active, interested voters. We provide those voter guide user addresses and emails back to the partner (depending on the partnership option chosen)
Other benefits to partners are that we solicit input from partners as to the survey questions we will be asking the candidates, and also allow each partner to exclude any question they don’t want included in their voter guide. Partner representatives are invited to serve on panels evaluating candidates and/or oversight panels that review evaluation results. We also provide a press release and email announcement template for iVoterGuide releases to each partner.
In 2014, we had 18 panels to cover the Federal only states plus 36 panels to evaluate candidates in the states with partners (includes statewide and state legislative races) in the primaries.
In 2014, we also had 14 Oversight panels to review all the standard panel evaluations.
That makes 54 standard panels and 14 oversight panels to evaluate candidates in the primaries. For the general election we had 75 panels.
The meetings occur about 2 weeks prior to the early voting date in each state, with the panelists doing their individual evaluations the 10 days prior to the meeting. Because each state sets their own schedule for early voting, the panel meetings are spread out from as early as February and then cycling through to the general election panels which will meet in September/October.
- I’ve heard that candidates no longer answer survey’s. What response rate do you get from candidates on the issue survey?
We get more Republicans than Democrats to complete the survey, so the primary gives us a better representation. We also get more responses from lower races, so since we currently only go down to state legislative races, we get the highest response rate from state candidates, then federal, with presidential being the lowest.
The percentage for federal candidates’ ranges from 0% to 70% with the average being 31%.
Survey response rates for State candidates range from 30% to 81%, with an average of 48%.