Analysis, discussion and opinions by members of Newsday's editorial board.
BloggersAlleen Barber Alvin Bessent Rita Ciolli Joseph Dolman Lane Filler Sam Guzik Gerald McKinstry Anne Michaud Larry Striegel
posts Next postKeeler: Americans vote ... in noisy, quiet, the usual or unfamiliar sites
Striegel: Still an undecided voter? ISideWith can help find your candidate
So the presidential election is upon us and you’re still undecided? Perhaps you’re put off or confused by the rhetoric and the ads, and tuned out months ago.
Don’t despair. ISideWith.com is here for you.
The website was developed earlier this year to help voters sift through the issues and find a presidential candidate who holds their views. It’s the brainchild of two friends in Los Angeles -- Taylor Peck, a marketing firm owner and self-described political junkie, and Nick Boutleier, a Web designer and programmer who’s not particularly interested in politics.
“We thought it would be a fun idea to make an accessible quiz to show us where we sided on the political spectrum,” Peck said in a telephone interview on Monday.
On the site, participants answer up to 41 questions about their views on a range of topics, from social issues (abortion, gay marriage, death penalty), the environment (global warming, offshore oil drilling, national parks), and the economy (minimum wage, debt ceiling, the bank bailout). It covers domestic and foreign policy, immigration, health care and science, too. There are basic yes-or-no questions (“Do you support the Patriot Act?”), but users can also choose more nuanced answers (“No, and pass strict laws prohibiting any government surveillance”), or simply submit their own opinions. You can also use “importance” gauges to indicate how strongly you feel about an issue.
At the end, participants are told which candidates their views align with most closely. In the presidential race, you could end up siding with one of six candidates — Republican Mitt Romney, Democrat Barack Obama, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, or Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson.
Peck says the site is nonpartisan and doesn’t take advertising. He says PayPal donations are footing its costs of about $10,000 a month. This past weekend, the site’s user count passed 5 million.
An additional feature allows you to share your results with friends via social media, and a national map shows how each candidate is doing in different states.
Peck says people tell him it’s a big surprise when they come up aligned with a third-party candidate. In New York, 52 percent of users’ positions on the issues match up with Obama’s positions, 47 percent with Stein, 43 percent with Johnson and 32 percent with Romney. In swing state Ohio, 50 percent of users’ positions match up with Obama’s, 48 percent with Johnson’s and 41 percent with Romney’s. Numbers add up to more than 100 percent because, for many issues, candidates share the same positions.
Peck warns that the survey is not a scientific sampling, and says he doesn’t know off the top of his head which candidate the national consensus in his poll would support. He adds that he’s not eager to release such a figure because he doesn’t want the poll to be misinterpreted as siding with one candidate or another. Rather, he says, it’s a tool simply to help voters.
So if you’re undecided, or just want to check your own beliefs vs. your favored candidate, this website might help you. After all, decision time is here.