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Blog

The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

February Common Ground E-Newsletter

2013 February 27

Learning the Research Language

Last week, I spent a day learning Structured Query Language (SQL), a method for navigating through Project Vote Smart's dense database of political information. It was a bit overwhelming at first, so my fellow interns and I came up with several queries – methods of obtaining specific sets of information from the database – to practice what we were learning.


As an intern at Project Vote Smart, I spend a large portion of my time collecting biographical information about state representatives. Going through the various state legislatures, I have been impressed by the number of elected officials who also hold full-time jobs, even when their legislatures are in session. Some own and operate small family businesses; others are doctors and lawyers.


I wanted to know more about the professions that elected officials have outside of politics, so I decided to take what I was learning and put it to use. Using SQL, I compiled a list of the professions of current women politicians from my home state of Wisconsin. I followed the specific formula I had learned to write this query (i.e. to ask our database to display this information in a clear, easy to understand spreadsheet).


After completing my query, I found that about half of the women politicians from Wisconsin who currently hold public office have other professions listed. This doesn't necessarily mean the others don't have outside careers, but they are not a part of the public record. The careers vary immensely: teacher or administrator in ...

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More Posts

Primary in Illinois' 2nd District Special Election

2013 February 26

Six days after Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to the misuse of campaign funds, voters in his long-held district go the polls to begin the process of finding a replacement.

Johanns Wont Seek Re-election

2013 February 18

Mike Johanns, the republican senior senator from Nebraska, won't seek reelection in 2014.

Lautenberg Won't Seek Reelection

2013 February 14

New Jersey's senior senator, Frank R. Lautenberg decided today that he will not seek reelection.

State of the Union Fun!

2013 February 14

Article II, section 3 of the United States constitution lays is out clearly: “Every year the president shall give a really big speech the whole country will watch, half of them eagerly, half of them angrily.” Well, not exactly.

A Vote Smart Guide to the Assault Weapons Ban

2013 January 31

Recently, something called an “assault weapons ban” has been making major news.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Fracking

2013 January 28

With new technology comes new debates and in 2012 many state legislatures attempted to regulate a relatively new industry they did not know much about. 

January Common Ground E-Newsletter

2013 January 28

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Legislative Wrap-Up: Bullying in Schools

2013 January 25

Throughout the past decade there has been a national trend of legislation on bullying.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Religious Objections to Birth Control

2013 January 24

In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an interim final rule concerning contraception.

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