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

A Majority of California, Idaho, and Iowa Candidates Fail to Disclose Issue Positions to Voters

2008 May 24 - Tony

Project Vote Smart released the 2008 California, Idaho, and Iowa Political Courage Test results this week, showing that a majority of primary candidates for State Legislature and Congress in these states were unwilling to answer questions on the issues that are of top concern to voters, such as questions regarding hate crime legislation, the employment of undocumented immigrants, the possible constitutional convention, the death penalty, access to health care and the licensing of gun possession. Percentage of candidates completing Political Courage Test listed below:

California Congressional Candidates: 20%
California State Legislature Candidates: 14%

Idaho Congressional Candidates: 32%
Idaho State Legislature Candidates: 23%

Iowa Congressional Candidates: 15%
Iowa State Legislature Candidates: 4%

The Political Courage Test asks all candidates one central question: "Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?" It is conducted nationally over the last 12 months of each election season. Illinois legislative and Congressional candidates were contacted repeatedly over three weeks and asked by prominent leaders of both major parties and by Project staff, if they were willing to provide their issue inclinations in the public interest.

Candidates advancing to the general election will have the opportunity to respond to the test again, when tested later this year.

Since 2000, Project Vote Smart has found that party leaders and consultants are advising candidates not to respond to the Political Courage Test for two primary reasons: it will limit the candidates' ability to control their campaign messages, and it will expose them ...

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