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On the eve of the California primary election, a nonpartisan organization is taking a fresh approach to the time-honored voter’s guide.
Crowdpac uses data to inform its recommendations for federal and state races. It analyzes stated positions on key issues, an incumbent’s voting record and campaign contributions to score each candidate.
Voters take a quick, three-step quiz to determine where they fall on the political spectrum, from liberal to conservative, and identify which issues they care most passionately about — say, health care, immigration or marriage rights. Based on these responses, Crowdpac generates individualized recommendations for those politicians whose views most closely match the voter’s own.
Crowdpac’s online voter guide debuts with California’s open primary this Tuesday, in which the two top candidates in each race, irrespective of party, face off in the general election. A mobile app should be available by this fall.
“The basic idea of Crowdpac is to make it easier for people to engage in politics, to help people get involved in politics by making it easier to do so,” said Steve Hilton, Crowdpac’s chief executive and co-founder, who was an advocate for government transparency when he served as a senior adviser to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.
Hilton said Crowdpac’s recommendations are built on the work of its co-founder and chief data scientist, Adam Bonica, a Stanford University professor who has spent six years developing a way to quantitatively measure political ideology. His methods rely heavily on an analysis of campaign contributions as the most accurate barometer of how a candidate will vote on key issues.
“By looking at the patterns of who gives to who, it’s not necessarily the size of donations that is useful — it’s the strength of the signal it sends,” Hilton said.
Crowdpac claims an accuracy rate of 92 percent to 94 percent.
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