One of a news organization’s most important jobs is helping voters make informed decisions before they go to the polls. We try to do that with lots of coverage during the election campaign: stories about stump speeches, horse-race stories, issue coverage.
But the fact is that lots of voters aren’t paying attention, particularly in the down-ballot races. They might be following the presidential campaign or races for Senate or governor. But a congressional race usually doesn’t command as much voter attention. Sometimes, especially with House races and local races, voters just want some help right before election. Historically we have tried to meet that need with voter guides readers could scan through, getting a quick look at candidates’ bios and their stands on key issues.
The York Daily Record offered readers a helpful tool in deciding how to vote in Tuesday’s primary races to choose the fall candidates to replace incumbent Todd Platts in the 4th Congressional District. With seven Republicans and three Democrats, voters had lots of candidates to follow, and a poll showed that two-thirds of registered voters were undecided as the primary approached.
The Record offered a quiz, asking voters’ opinions on issues, then showing them which candidate most closely reflected their views and priorities. The quiz, powered by GoToQuiz, asked what kind of experience voters valued, whether it mattered where a candidate lived, and about views on positions such as tax cuts, health care reform, climate change and the war in Afghanistan. You choose which statement most matches your position and the quiz awards points to the candidate whose position you chose.
We needed a quiz that would score “points” for multiple candidates per answer chosen, and we also needed it to allow candidates to score “points” on multiple answers per question. In some cases, we needed candidates to receive a varying amount of points per answer chosen.
Luckily, we found www.gotoquiz.com. This site allowed us to do everything we needed, while also offering statistics on traffic and referral sites. …
In creating the quiz, for each potential answer a user would choose, we could assign each candidate a number of points. For example, one question asked about a candidate’s experience. If a user said they wanted a candidate with experience holding public office, both Chris Reilly and Scott Perry were awarded points. But if the user said they wanted a candidate with private sector experience as a lawyer/attorney, Ken Lee and Sean Summers received points.
The quiz was popular and helpful to voters, with 1,095 people taking the quiz, Editor Jim McClure reported Wednesday morning.
This was especially helpful in such a crowded race, but I think candidate quizzes will be helpful in the fall races as well. Some candidates will decide those races based on party loyalty, but the independent voters will decide those races, and some of them won’t be paying attention to your daily coverage.
Quizzes to help voters see who shares their views will be a helpful tool as the fall election approaches. In congressional races and local races, you can ask candidates the same questions and use their actual answers as choices in your quiz.
This continues my series of posts about the work of my Digital First Media colleagues. Here are earlier posts: