Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s nonprofit group USAFacts today debuted a new Voter Center, an online resource that shows the positions members of Congress take publicly and compares them with government data.
USAFacts, a nonpartisan civic data initiative launched by Ballmer last year, is partnering on Voter Center with Countable, BallotReady, and TurboVote. The groups say the goal is to provide voters with “one-stop shopping for the Congressional midterms.”
In a statement, Ballmer said USAFacts wants to help voters “cut through what they see as bias and noise and make solid decisions at the ballot box.”
Using the tool, Americans can check whether they’re registered to vote and search by zip code to see the House and Senate candidates running in their district. Voter Center compares the candidates’ stated positions with government data on those issues. It shows a clickable grid with different issues like education, guns, and the economy. Clicking a topic reveals specifics about each of those candidates on the issues, and broader government data on how the country is doing in that department.
USAFacts cited data from its 2018 “State of the Facts Poll,” which found that researching and finding data was the most common way people said they form opinions on issues, cited by 61 percent of respondents. Fifty-four percent of respondents stated “my values” as a driver of their policy positions. The Harris Poll conducted the poll for USAFacts from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, surveying 2,501 Americans.
USAFacts asked, which of the following helps you form opinions on a policy issue?
According to the poll, 60 percent of Republicans cited values as a driver of their opinions, compared with 49 percent of Democrats who stated that personal values are a driver of their positions. The poll also showed that immigration, the economy, healthcare, and taxes are Americans’ top priorities in the midterm elections, in that order.
Eighty percent of Americans are worried that election information is biased, according to the poll. Some 74 percent of respondents said that the election news they do see is “clickbait” designed to sell ads, and 62 percent believe election information is influenced by foreign governments.
Ballmer’s USA Facts is a non-profit initiative that produces detailed reports and interactive charts, looking at federal, state and local government data using reporting formats and analytical tools more common in the business world.
“I don’t buy that we’re in a post-fact world,” Ballmer told GeekWire when he launched USAFacts last year. “People talk about alternate facts, they talk about fake news … but the numbers are what they are. They tell us about the past. They give us the ability to judge the forecast that we all have for the future.”
Editor’s Note: GeekWire is working with Steve Ballmer and his USAFacts team on a project to be announced later this year.