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Election resources for 2010 midterms

The 2010 midterm elections are just a couple of weeks away (November 2, 2010 across the country!). So I thought I’d highlight some cool Web resources to help voters separate the wheat from the chaff of our political candidates.

  • Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan volunteer organization that tracks voting records, biographical & contact Information, candidate issue positions, interest group ratings, public statements, and campaign finances. And this election cycle, they’ve put together a nifty little tool called VoteEasy where you can quickly see candidates from your state and Congressional districts and explore their positions on 12 different issues from abortion, Afghanistan and education to environment, social security and taxes. One word of warning, the site has a soundtrack so turn your speakers down or click on the audio control on the lower right of the site. You’ve been warned 🙂
  • MAPLight is a site that tracks Money And Politics (MAP). They’ve also recently released some California-centered tools like MAPLight California which tracks campaign contributions to Assembly members and Senators in the California State Legislature and MAPLight Prop 23 which tracks donations for/against the hot button issue of Prop. 23 (which suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year).
  • Also centered on California, the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, in collaboration with the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, and the Center for California Studies at CSU Sacramento has created the California Choices Website with guides to the nine ballot measures on the November 2 California General Election ballot. The site also features a View Endorsements and Share Your Vote page where you can compare endorsements from political parties, unions, newspapers, and other organizations, and share how you are voting with friends and family via email or Facebook.

Please leave us links to other voter resources in the comments. And DON’T FORGET TO REGISTER TO VOTE WITH YOUR STATE SECRETARY OF STATE!

Survey of (academic) research on Twitter in politics

There has been a lot of research done by academic and consulting institutions regarding Twitter adoption in politics. Between February 2010 to now, I think that there have been at least a dozen circulated studies on this topic. The fact that this topic is studied by consultants, economists, marketers, and political scientists suggests that the topic is important; or at the very least, a trend. A number of interesting results have emerged. Collectively, all of these studies give us a refined picture of a typical politician who Tweets.

Williams and Gulati (2010) find that those who adopt Twitter are politicians who have received a lot of contributions. Well funded politicians often have better access and information about “trendy” communication technologies. Alternatively, well funded politicians may have more connections and benefit more from technology that (presumably) maintains these connections.

Lassen and Brown (2010) find that politicians in less competitive districts are more likely to adopt Twitter. It is hard to say why this pattern emerges. However, our well publicized paper (Chi and Yang, 2010) may provide a hint.

Our study finds that the positive effect on adoption associated with the lack of competitiveness (i.e. electoral support) is largest for inexperienced politicians. This pattern seems to fit with the story which links the benefit associated with transparency and electoral support. Those with strong support have an incentive to maintain their constituents’ trust. This incentive is strongest for those who are new to the game and have yet to solidify their positive reputation.

Now, this leaves the plethora of studies that seem to be fixated on showing: Republicans are more likely to Tweet (or have higher “Digital IQ”). You can find some of these studies here, here and here.

There are probably more studies floating around. But these are the ones that I believe have gained the most traction in the public arena.