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Candidates Flunk 20-Year Study of Political Courage

29 October 2012

PROJECT VOTE SMART HEADQUARTERS (October 30, 2012) – A  20-year study of over 15,000 congressional candidates and their willingness to answer questions on the major issues facing the nation finds some states' candidates consistently performing worse than others, no matter when, how, or by whom they were asked.


Beginning in 1992, and as part of a collaboration with 200 news organizations and prominent leaders of both major parties, Vote Smart's Political Courage Test has pressed each candidate to answer a series of issue questions known to be at the top of the public's mind and most likely to come up in the next legislative session (view the 2012 Political Courage Test, Congressional Edition).


The study is based on the number of U.S. House and Senate candidates willing to state their positions through the Political Courage Test over the course of 11 election cycles (1992-2012); see below for the best and worst performing states:


Top 5

% of Candidates Showing Political Courage, '92 - '12

Bottom 5

% of Candidates Showing Political Courage, '92 - '12

1. Montana

73%

50. Wisconsin

35.925%

2. Maine

71%

49. New York

35.932%

3. Idaho

65%

48. Georgia

36%

4. Wyoming

59%

47. Virginia

37.1%

5. Alaska

58%

46. Florida

37.4%

View all Political Courage Test results for both the 1992-2012 study and for the 2012 election season.

This election year marks a record low for candidate return rates as only twenty-three percent (23%) of Congressional candidates nationwide were willing to tell citizens where they stand on the issues they may face if elected.


Documented evidence shows that both major parties and campaign consultants are advising candidates to not provide citizens with issue position information for fear of opposition research and attack advertising.


“If the struggle to self-govern is successful, it is certainly not for the reasons the Founders hoped it would be,” said Richard Kimball, Vote Smart President. “Either the people no longer care about the facts or campaigns now simply manage the people.”


Key findings from 20-year study:

  • Political Courage Test response rates for congressional candidates have fallen from a high of seventy-two percent (72%) in 1996 to back-to-back record low response rates occurring in 2010 with thirty-eight percent (38%), and in 2012, twenty-three percent (23%).

  • Each election year, Republicans and Democrats overall response rates remain within a few percentage points of each other. From '92 – '12, Republicans' responded thirty-eight percent (38%) of the time, and for Democrats, forty percent (40%).

  • From '92 - '12, only twenty-six percent (26%) of congressional incumbents provided their issue positions, while fifty-two percent (52%) of challengers did so.

For more information about the Political Courage Testing of all 2012 state legislative and gubernatorial candidates, please visit our website. 


Complete Ranking of Congressional Candidate Political Courage by State, 1992 – 2012:


1 Montana 72.73 %
2 Maine 70.59 %
3 Idaho 65.17 %
4 Wyoming 59.1 %
5 Alaska 58.21 %
6 Michigan 58.12 %
7 North Dakota 57.69 %
8 Arizona 56.57 %
9 Iowa 56.02 %
10 New Jersey 55.47 %
11 Nebraska 55.43 %
12 Minnesota 55.23 %
13 South Carolina 55 %
14 Indiana 54.06 %
15 New Hampshire 54.02 %
16 California 53.9 %
17 Massachusetts 53.88 %
18 Oregon 53.49 %
19 Delaware 53.44 %
20 Kansas 51.63 %
21 South Dakota 51.52 %
22 Missouri 51.47 %
23 Rhode Island 51.35 %
24 Pennsylvania 51.34 %
25 Utah 50.52 %
26 West Virginia 50 %
27 Illinois 49.91 %
28 North Carolina 49.27 %
29 Colorado 49.11 %
30 Washington 48.66 %
31 Vermont 48.57 %
32 Louisiana 48.13 %
33 Oklahoma 46.43 %
34 Texas 46.06 %
35 Connecticut 45.57 %
36 Hawaii 45.56 %
37 Mississippi 44.83 %
38 Ohio 43.16 %
39 Maryland 43.14 %
40 Alabama 41.3 %
41 Kentucky 40.91 %
42 New Mexico 40.2 %
43 Nevada 39.88 %
44 Tennessee 39.84 %
45 Arkansas 38.26 %
46 Florida 37.41 %
47 Virginia 37.1 %
48 Georgia 36.13 %
49 New York 35.932 %
50 Wisconsin 35.925 %












Related tags: blog, Election, press-release

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