For a decade now, Project Vote Smart has been testing the willingness of candidates to tell citizens their stance on issues that they will likely face on their behalf, through the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT). The NPAT was designed as a ten-year study, and with the 2006 elections, Project Vote Smart analyzed the final results of the study.
Project Vote Smart learned from the NPAT that candidates are increasingly unwilling to tell voters where they stand on these issues. We also learned that campaign advisors and political parties are blatantly telling their candidates not to respond to the NPAT, because it will "pin them in a corner." Finally, we learned that it takes an immense ammount of courage for candidates to buck their advisors and their party, in favor of giving voters the information that is necessary to make an educated decision when they enter the voting booth.
While the ten-year study known as the NPAT may be over, the lessons of the test will continue in the form of the "Political Courage Test." Although it's been proven that candidates are increasingly unwilling to give this information to voters, we will continue to test them, because it helps voters to have a clearer picture of those people who are campaigning for their votes.
The presidential candiates of 2008 will be the first group of candidates to take the Political Courage Test. The test was sent to all 200+ candidates who have filed with the Federal Election Commission. They will have until October 31st at midnight to respond to the test.
Just like the NPAT the Political Courage Test has been created with the help of hundreds of journalists and political scientist from around the nation. It is a totally non-partisan test. Candidates only have to provide answers to 70% of the questions to be counted as responding to the test. Also, candidates will continue to have the option of filling in their own answer if they feel that they are "pinned down" by the answers provided.
For the first time ever though, candidates will be able to respond to the test online. So, no longer will candidates be able to say that they forgot about the test.
The candidates have already been urged by bloggers and newspapers to respond to the test. You too can help to increase the response rates for the test. Urge the candidates that you care about to respond to the test. We have seen evidence to suggest that candidates are far more likely to respond to the test if they are urged to do so by not only Vote Smart Staff, but also members of the general public.
The actual test that was sent to all candidates can be viewed HERE
2 October 2007
Written by MikeW