This is the new politics.
Crowdpac’s mission is to give politics back to people - to make it easier for citizens to learn about politicians, run for office, and to find and support political candidates that match their priorities and beliefs. We want to help end the stranglehold of big money donors and special interests on the political system. Crowdpac is independent and non-partisan.
We believe that with the right tools, individuals working together can recreate our American democracy to be more representative. The majority of campaign contributions should be small dollar donations and barriers of entry should be lowered for first time politicians. That means crowdfunding U.S. politics, in place of the corrupt funding we have today.
We also provide objective data to help individuals find the best matches on their ballot, and the best candidates to support on the issues that matter most to them. Crowdpac's unique data model maps candidates (federal, state, and local) objectively on an ideological spectrum based on campaign contributions, voting records, and what candidates say.
Crowdpac's Scoring System
Crowdpac calculates objective scores for political candidates showing their overall political position and, where possible, their position on specific issues. The scores use a liberal/conservative scale: 10L is the most liberal and 10C is the most conservative. In some cases, candidates are given scores showing as 10+L or 10+C; this means they are more extreme than our scale can show. Overall scores are based on publicly available campaign contributions information, analyzed by our data model. Issue scores are based on campaign contributions and Congressional voting records. When candidates do not have a score, we either do not have the minimum amount of data needed or the analysis is inconclusive; if we cannot accurately place a candidate on the liberal/conservative scale, we won't provide scores.
Crowdpac Data Model
The Crowdpac data model combines three sources of publicly available information about candidates:
- Money - which individuals or organizations have contributed to the candidates' campaigns, and which campaigns the candidates themselves have contributed to, as reported to federal and state regulatory authorities. This gives us a good indication of their overall political position.
- Speech - what the candidates say: the bills they sponsor or co-sponsor (if they are currently in office or have been elected before); the words or phrases they use most, as reported in legislative text and floor records, and candidate statements made on official websites, Facebook profiles and via official tweets. This gives us a good indication of their political priorities.
- Votes - the candidates' voting record (if they are currently in office or have been in office before). This helps increase the accuracy of our predictions - from around 92% to 94% - and to estimate candidates' position on specific issues.
It works like this: to calculate overall scores for candidates - both incumbents and new candidates - we rely on campaign finance records. Donors to political campaigns tend to support candidates who share their policy preferences and/or personal interests, and screen out those who do not. This generates large amounts of information on where candidates stand. In analyzing the patterns of who gives to whom, our data model is able to make inferences about the issue positions of both candidates and donors. Additional information on candidates' personal contributions made to other campaigns are incorporated to improve the model’s predictions. As a result, it represents a new way of forecasting how a candidate would likely vote and legislate if elected to office.
To calculate scores on specific issues, for incumbent candidates, we use Congressional voting records; for non-incumbent candidates with no voting record, we compare their donors with the donors of incumbents.
We calculate scores for as many candidates as possible. It depends on the candidate, but often a single donation that candidate made to another candidate is enough for the model to calculate an overall score. In most cases, a candidate must receive 50 donations before we can calculate issue scores. In all cases, the contributions need to have been reported to federal or state regulatory authorities. The more data we have on a candidate, the more confident we can be about our scores. On each candidate's profile page, we provide a summary of the availability of data for that candidate.
You can find a more detailed academic explanation of our data model, including a paper prepared by co-founder Adam Bonica, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University here: http://data.stanford.edu/dime/
Steve Hilton CEO and co-founder. Steve currently teaches at Stanford University's d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) and was formerly Senior Advisor to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, in which position he championed data transparency and the redistribution of power from government to citizens.
Adam Bonica Data and Politics Expert and co-founder. Adam is an Assistant Professor of political science at Stanford University. The focus of his research is the quantitative measurement of political ideology. He built the algorithms that drives the various Crowdpac products and services.
Gisel Kordestani COO and co-founder. Gisel is a tech entrepreneur who has worked in early stage startups, management consulting and spent over eight years at Google in senior global roles in finance and new business development. Gisel holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in International Affairs from the American University in Paris.
Eric Smith Lead software engineer. Eric co-founded Bistro Studios where he developed web sites and applications for clients like TOMS Shoes and Barnes & Noble. He holds a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Pepperdine University.
Mason Harrison Political Director. Mason is a seasoned public affairs and communications professional who previously served as a spokesperson and political aide for the presidential campaigns of Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at UC Davis.
Liz Jaff Political Director. Liz is an accomplished political operative working for both Obama Campaigns (running Regional Field in 2007-08 in multiple states and Get out the Vote efforts in Ohio for 2012). She has managed competitive races in local elections and worked on coalition building in both the Obama administration and in Congress.
Stephen Melrose Senior Software Engineer. Stephen is a Software Engineering Consultant, previously a Lead Software Engineer for BSkyB responsible for leading teams working on high-performance and high-availability web-based systems. He holds a BS in Multimedia Technology from Huddersfield University, UK.
Mike Polyakov VP data science. Mike previously served as research director at California Common Sense and as a software engineer at Lockheed Martin. He holds a PhD from UC Berkeley in political science and a BA and ME in computer science from Cornell University.
Jesse Thomas VP Digital Strategy. A seasoned political digital strategist, Jesse led the online campaign for President Obama’s reelection campaign that registered over a million people to vote. He served as Digital Director for NextGen Climate and has run numerous successful digital engagement and creative campaigns for non-profits and government.
Fernando Velloso Neto Senior Manager, Content & Data. Fernando received his MA in International Policy from Stanford University, during which time he consulted for Brazil's Mission to the United Nations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Previously he was a lawyer and worked in Brazil's Federal Congress.
Dan Carson Lead Designer. Dan was the Lead Interaction Designer for the 2012 Obama Campaign, Product Designer at Trunk Club and Change.org, and Senior Designer at Modest. He has done work for dozens of political campaigns, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profits. Dan has AAA degree from The Art Institute of Seattle in Interactive Media Development.
Ethan Kessinger Political Analyst and Project Manager. Ethan received a B.A. in Science, Technology and Society from Stanford University. He is a former AmeriCorps service member.
Cedric Hulin Head of User Acquistion. Cedric developed Web Analytics and Digital Marketing skills working for the telecommunication company Orange. He holds a Master of Science in Marketing & Business Development from EDHEC Business School (France).
Emma Leeds Armstrong Political Analyst Fellow. Emma is a sophomore at Stanford University studying political science and classics. She worked on her first political campaign as a twelve year old.
Libby Scholz Political Analyst Fellow. Libby is a junior at Stanford University studying economics. She previously worked at Rock the Vote in Washington, D.C.
Ben Ginsberg is Washington DC’s leading lawyer for Republicans. He is a partner at Jones Day and Co-chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.
Marc Elias is Washington DC’s leading lawyer for Democrats, representing candidates and PACs. He is a partner at Perkins Coie.
Jonathan Zucker is founder and CEO of Democracy Engine, a non-partisan payment processing service for political candidates and issue campaigns.
Tammy Haddad is President and CEO of Washington DC-based Haddad Media and has over 25 years of experience as an executive producer of political web, cable and network programs.
Pablo Chavez is Vice President, Global Public Policy and Government Affairs at LinkedIn.
Kevin Twohy has worked with startups, creative agencies, and large corporations to design innovative and intuitive user experiences. He studied Mathematics and English at UCLA.
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