Monday, November 05, 2007

Comparing Candidates

Do you really want to know how much you agree with your preferred Presidential candidate? Are you confused by all of the interpreters posing as "experts" about what the candidates say and mean? Thanks to Glassbooth, which debuted October 30, you can sort the wheat from the chaff yourself, and easily source the information used.

While there are other reasonably decent "candidate calculators" out there, none that I know of have the transparency and flexibility of Glassbooth. As the organization says, "We are not Google…we want you to know why your results are delivered the way they are." First, you are offered the chance to select from a range of 14 different policy issues. Next, you assign 20 points any way you want to indicate which issues are more or less important to you. If one issue is more important to you, that generates more questions on that issue.

What is unique to this program is the question-by-question comparison of your answers with each candidate's position, with direct links to the written or videotaped source of the information. This allows you to by-pass self-appointed information gatekeepers and decide for yourself if your views are in fact similar, or perhaps that the difference between you and the candidate is not that big after all. There is no man posing as a wizard behind the curtain pulling levers to disguise the methodology or the results.

One drawback is that the quiz is limited to 20 questions. And your emphasis of one particular issue over the others can skew the results because the number of questions for each issue is determined by your ranking of the issues. Another minor drawback is that some issues do not have a lot of questions designed for them. For example, if you assign an issue like "Drugs" 1 point, you will get 1 question about it. Assign 4 points and you'll get 4 questions to more closely examine your opinions and those of the candidates. Assign 10 points, though, and you will still get only 4 questions. (Your answers just get weighted as 2.5 each.) Once the results are calculated, the program provides the top 3 candidates you appear to agree with, and the percentage of the time you agreed. (In the upper right, a drop-down menu is available to view the results of the other 13 candidates individually.)

With that in mind, here are the issue categories. The number in parenthesis after each category is the maximum number of questions available for that category: Drugs (4); Civil Liberties & Domestic Security (4); Crime & Punishment (5); Iraq & Foreign Policy(11); Trade & Economics (5); Environment & Energy (10); Gun Control (3); Immigration (6); Healthcare (6); Social Security (2); Taxes & Budget (8); Education (12); Gay Rights (4); Abortion & Birth Control (10). Altogether there are 90 possible questions.

(Via skippy the bush kangaroo)

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