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, 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 and to help create a more representative democracy. Crowdpac is independent, non-partisan and for-profit.
By putting informative political data in our users' hands, we help them find the best matches on their ballot, and the best candidates to support on the issues that matter most to them. Crowdpac uses data on political candidates to help everyone participate more easily and effectively in the political process. Crowdpac's data model calculates objective scores for political candidates (federal, state and, in time, local), showing their overall political position and, where possible, their position on specific issues. Scores are 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. Candidates' priorities are based on the words or phrases they use the most.
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 is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University 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.
Eric Halpern Interim CTO. Eric has a deep background building industrial strength systems, effective teams and useful products. He's held posts as Chief Architect for WebLogic/BEA and CTO for numerous startups ranging from Doppelganger (a 3D MMO) to DNA Games/Zynga (large scale social games/optimization platform) to Foodily (vertical recipe search) to Reviver (an electronic license plate). He holds a BS in Computer Science from Brown University and a MS in Computer Science from Stanford University.
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.
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.
Cedric Hulin User Acquisition Analyst. 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).
Fernando Velloso Neto Project Manager and Policy Analyst. He received his Master of Arts degree 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.
Ethan Kessinger Political Analyst. Currently a senior at Stanford University, Ethan is a B.A. candidate in Science, Technology and Society. He is a former AmeriCorps service member.
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.
Phillip Bensaid User Experience Design. Phillip is a tech entrepreneur, user experience designer and brand strategist. Co-founder of Foodily, Crusher & Active Conference and early contributor at Aardvark and Billshrink, he worked at Frog Design and holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design.
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