- How comprehensive is iVoterGuide’s research of candidates?
- Where do you get the data from?
- How carefully are candidates evaluated to determine their likely philosophy?
Our researchers compile information from the following areas.
- Legislative Vote Ratings – we go to over 300 organizations (both liberal and conservative) that evaluate legislators, and enter their ratings for every legislator. We gather ratings from both nationwide and state organizations, so we cover 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. There are separate survey’s based on the type of office: federal, legislative, judicial, state education. We ask each candidate questions in categories like: self-defense, marriage, life, education, religious liberty, immigration, Obamacare, Israel, and a statement of faith. Unlike the candidate debates, each candidate has the opportunity to answer every question.
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.
Campaign finance data is downloaded from the Federal Election Commission. State campaign finance typically comes from the Secretary of state’s office in each state. We go directly to over 150 organizations to collect and enter their Voting Records for each candidate. Endorsements are found by scouring over 800 endorsing organizations to see who they have evaluated.
We contact each candidate asking them to complete our candidate survey, reminding them multiple times and then allow them to review all their information before it is made public. Each candidate is asked to include their endorsements and biographical data. All candidate survey answers are published precisely as the candidates have entered them. However, iVoterGuide reserves the right not to publish any information which is false, potentially libelous, or which iVoterGuide determines is not fit to be printed.
We carefully vet local volunteers (if available) to make sure they align with our values. They complete their own issue survey and we DO call their references. They usually work for one of our partners, or we find them through a partner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering. Only about 20% who volunteer go on through the vetting process to actually serve.
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, to use their local knowledge (we seek panelists in the states of the candidates), to search 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 what kind of voting record the candidate, if elected, would likely receive from a multi-issue organization that scores on both economic and social issues. Panelists put each candidate into one of these categories, according to their confidence in the candidate’s future voting record:
- Very Conservative – At least 95% confident the candidate will vote conservatively
- Conservative – 85-94% confident the candidate will vote conservatively
- Somewhat Conservative – 70-84% confident the candidate will vote conservatively
- Moderate – Less than 70% confident the candidate will vote either conservatively or liberally. Candidates fall into this category if there is not convincing evidence to classify them as either conservative or liberal
- Somewhat Liberal – 70-84% confident the candidate will vote liberally
- Liberal – 85-94% confident the candidate will vote liberally
- Very Liberal – At least 95% confident the candidate will vote liberally