Internet application plays candidate, voter match maker
Published: Saturday, April 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Everyone remembers the fad that became “Obama ’08.” Many of us personally knew someone who cheered for “Hope and Change” while not knowing many, if any, of Obama’s stances on political issues. This is not unique to the 2008 presidential election, but for a lot of us it was the first time we really experienced it, especially to such a high degree.
A company called iShapePolicy is hoping to change that. According to co-founder, Brendan Watson, they wanted to create an “alternative to the status-quo” when it comes to how people decide which candidates to vote for. Watson described what is called political socialization, as a progression that begins with the family and continues through educational institutions and the media.
With their new online platform, iElect, the company seeks to match people with the candidate who shares the most similar opinions. This is done through a series of 15 questions that have between one-and-four different answer choices. The questions range from Roe v. Wade, to the budget, to government bailouts. These topics were chosen by a six-person advisory panel, according to Watson, that held people from academia, the private spectrum, and more. Of course, if participants feel that those 15 questions do not fully portray their views, then they have the option to answer more.
After the questionnaire is complete, participants are sent to a page that ranks candidates by the percentage of matching answers. At the moment, the platform only covers the Presidential election. However, according to Watson, they plan on having the 11 gubernatorial races available closer to November.
Kristina Petrie, a DePaul junior studying English literature, admitted that her candidate match was not whom she was expecting. She also said that the questions “raised my awareness and made me curious to research certain issues and candidates more closely.”
Not everyone is well-versed in politics, and some questions may ask opinions on specific issues that participants have not heard of before. For example, the budget question requests that participants state their opinion on a “Balanced Budget Amendment,” a theory that few outside the political science realm are familiar with. To help, there are direct links to find definitions or explanations.
Once the match is made, participants are able to see a side-by-side comparison of what each candidate’s answers are; as-well-as links for where iShapePolicy found that information.
Some, however, believe that a simple ‘yes or no’ answer, especially to issues as complex as the budget debate, does not fully capture one’s political values. “I found myself saying, wait! I want to explain!” said Sean Tyler, a sophomore anthropology student. To respond to these criticisms, Watson said that they will be modifying some of the available answers this month. This will include more information on the topic, and more key words, along with the option to skip a question, or respond ‘no answer.’
For those who may be on the fence about presidential candidates, or who aren’t sure if they really support the same person those around them do, then iElect is a great application to not only see who matches your ideals and values, but also to begin further research into current events.