An innovative new political technology startup called Crowdpac wants to take the confusion out of the political process and provide voters with the resources they need to make informed voting decisions. Their motto: “This election, vote wisely, not blindly.”
According to the startup’s website, Crowdpac is a “non-partisan personalized voting guide…that calculates objective scores for political candidates based on three sources of publicly available information.”
Those three areas are money, or the amount each candidate has received in campaign contributions; speech, or which issue each candidate discusses most in his or her public appearances; and votes, the candidate’s voting history on a variety of issues.
Crowdpac will test its new system in California’s primary elections, to be held on June 3, and has placed a “spotlight” on one specific race: the 33rd district congressional election to succeed outgoing Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the startup hopes to expand to all 50 states in time for November’s midterm general elections. The company also wants to allow voters the opportunity to contribute directly to their favorite candidate’s campaigns through their website.
Crowdpac was founded by two Stanford professors and has grown to include a diverse team of qualified people, including former Google and Udacity executives. Crowdpac CEO Steve Hilton previously worked as an adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Breitbart News spoke to Hilton by phone Wednesday morning.
“People want to get involved in the political process, but they don’t have the time,” he said. “They want a quick snapshot. So our objective system will provide that for them.”
He added that the company is highlighting the 33rd district race because “it’s a good example of how the system can help voters. There are a lot of candidates in the race and very little information about most of them.”
Hilton said the startup uses a proprietary algorithm developed by Crowdpac co-founder Adam Bonica, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University. According to their press release, Crowdpac compiles data on each candidate’s positions on key issues, trends in political speech, voting behavior, interest group ratings, and past political activity, then displays all the information in easy-to-browse candidate profile pages.
Crowdpac’s approach is unique in that they advocate for campaign contribution data to be a key factor in voters’ decision-making. While other political money-tracking websites like OpenSecrets.org can be tough to navigate, Crowdpac breaks down financial information into easily accessible pie graphs and charts.
“While there are lots of place online to follow the money in politics, few of them take the approach that all that cash in the system could provide beneficial information to voters,” reported Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times.
At the same time, the candidate profile pages offer more traditional metrics for decision-making by voters, like how conservative or liberal a candidate is on a scale of one to ten, each candidate’s top issues, and even a box displaying each candidate’s most-used keywords. The front page of the website contains sample candidate profiles for both Darrell Issa and Nancy Pelosi; Issa’s profile shows that he raised most of his money from donors ranking a conservative 6 on the political scale, while Pelosi’s page indicates that most of her fundraising comes from out of state, and her top terms include “discrimination,” “fairness,” and “promise.”
Crowdpac raised money from several upper-tier venture capital firms, including NEA, InterWest, and SV Angel. According to their press release, the company remains focused on expanding available candidate information and adding robust new features to the site.
“We believe that by building the most useful, trusted destination for non-partisan political information–and developing simple tools that enable people to act on that information–we can put power back in people’s hands and help create a more representative democracy,” says the press release.