Project Vote Smart sends out surveys. Are you filling it out? I wouldn't.

The Associated Press is noting tonight via the Argus Leader's website that Project Vote Smart surveys are out for South Dakota candidates:

Candidates across the country are again being asked to complete and return National Political Awareness Test surveys to the nonpartisan Project Vote Smart.

The surveys were sent to South Dakota's candidates for U.S. House, governor and the state Legislature asking for viewpoints on a variety of issues.

2004 marked the first time South Dakota's entire national delegation shunned the group, whose founding board members include Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

In 1996, 72 percent of congressional candidates answered the group's questions but participation has been falling since. In 2000, it dropped to 63 percent, and it dipped to 50 percent in 2002.

Project Vote Smart, started in 1992 by failed Senate candidate Richard Kimball, provides information on national and state candidates, including the surveys, voting records, campaign speeches and ratings from special interest groups.

Read about it here. I was actually sitting down having a soda with one of the candidates as he was working on it. He asked me what I thought about it, and I'll relate the same advice to you.

Two words. Opposition research.

Probably to his credit, he didn't listen to me. He filled it out and sent it in. Good for Project Vote Smart. But is it good for the candidate?

But my advice would be to all prospective candidates - especially new ones - keep in mind that this might be the only source of information on your stance on a particular issue and the only time it comes up. So why would you throw it out there for dissection and use by your opponent?

There's a reason why participation is going down. Most voters don't give a darn whether or not you fill out an out-of-state survey. The only ones who care are project vote smart who will hound you if you don't.

I like it when my opponents fill them out - sometimes it's great documentation of where they sit on a controversial issue. Have no idea where they sit on abortion or gun control? Well, there it is. But when my candidates get those, my advice is to file it in circular bin #13.

It's not like your district's local newspapers surveys, or even an Associated Press survey. It's just a group in another state promoting their own self importance. (Much like myself with this blog, before one of you commenters point that out for me.)

Regardless, When you fill it out, political hacks like me on both sides of the aisle will attempt to glean information off of it to use against you.

Now, aren't you glad you filled out that survey?


lexrex said…
pp, you may be right about project vote smart's voter guide, but i've seen voters hold it against candidates who don't fill out the family policy council's guide, which will go out to 250,000 people.

if you don't fill it out, the perception is that you're hiding something.
Anonymous said…
or that you don't want to deal with the family policy council. You know, that non-partisan group that compared Tom Daschle to Saddam Hussein.
Anonymous said…
PP, your dead right on your position.

The only thing that comes from answering is headaches for the candiates.
Haggs said…
Before I started following politics closely this year, Project Vote Smart was one of the resources I used to help me decide who to vote for.

And when I was extremely apathetic about Kerry and Bush in 2004, it helped me find some cool 3rd party candidates.

So, I can see how candidates wouldn't like it, but I think it's a great resource for voters.
lexrex said…
i agree haggs. not sharing your views as a candidate is disrespectful of the voters.

that's why often campaigns boil dow to popularity contests and promises of pork.

as for the family policy council voter guide, a liberal will find the guide as useful as any conservative. that is if liberals care about where the candidates stand on the abortion ban, the marriage amendment, property rights, cell phone taxes, and mandatory kindergarten.
Anonymous said…
It might be of interest that at the bottom of the letter asking us to fill out the survey, this appears
"Your signed NPAT must be received on of before August 9 to avoid our posting your answer as a NO. ....."
Perhaps someone should mount a legal challenge to this to prevent them from threatening. I don't like out of state opinion surveys and normally don't fill them out, however I did for Vote Smart (shame on me)

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