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How Moderate are Americans Elect’s Select Nine?

Yesterday, the corporate presidential nominating effort called Americans Elect communicated with favor toward nine American politicians, nine politicians it featured in a dedicated banner on top of its new “Candidates” page. We’ll call these the Americans Elect Select Nine. They are Republican former Governor Buddy Roemer, Republican Congressman Dennis Ross, Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, Republican Congressman Allen West, Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Republican Congressman Steve Stivers, Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo, Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle and Democratic Congressman John Carney.

The Select Nine, all possible contenders for the presidency, are given a favored and promoted position on Americans Elect’s Candidates page according to their “match” with two sources, both controlled by Americans Elect:

1. Answers to a Ipsos Public Affairs Poll commissioned by the Americans Elect corporation. The text of this poll has apparently not been publicly released.

2. A set of “core questions” approved by Americans Elect corporate executives in September of 2011, questions that rank-and-file members had no role in creating or approving, questions that differ markedly from the set that those rank-and-file members have decided is important.

We don’t know what the Ipsos poll questions were, but as any methodologist will tell you the careful phrasing of the poll questions can lead to desired answers. The questions we do know about, those “core questions,” reflect what Americans Elect leadership believe to be important, and so the “National Match” with those core questions is really an “Americans Elect Leadership Match.”

Americans Elect says its selection process will result in a ticket that “bridges the vital center.” However, the way that Americans Elect has determined its match on those “core questions” shines a light on how carefully crafted Americans Elect’s questions have been. As you can see by visiting the profile page of Americans Elect Top Selection Buddy Roemer, Americans Elect lists positions generated by the website On The Issues relating to Americans Elect’s nine “core questions.” But click through to the explanation of that profile and you’ll notice those position statements at On The Issues are only addressing Americans Elect’s carefully selected nine “core questions.” It turns out that on its main page On The Issues has a much more expansive list of policy questions that it uses to track candidates. See Buddy Roemer’s more thorough and complete profile on the main On the Issues page, and you’ll see that Buddy Roemer isn’t categorized as a Moderate, but rather on the right side of the political spectrum, as a Right Conservative:

Buddy Roemer mapped as a Right Conservative by On The Issues main page.

How far off does Americans Elect’s specially limited rating system go from the more thorough On The Issues rating? We can see how far off by mapping the broader On The Issues ideological placement of each of the Americans Elect Select Nine. Republicans are colored red, and Democrats are colored blue:

On The Issues Ideology Map of the Americans Elect Select Nine

Who’s in the Americans Elect Select Nine? No populists. No liberals. Only one libertarian. Only one moderate, and a whole bunch of conservatives.

The Americans Elect Select Nine do not “bridge the vital center.” They are overwhelmingly planted on America’s right wing.


Update, November 19 2011:
Americans Elect has updated its ratings system. The sole Democrat to be included in the original list now has been kicked out of the ranks of the Select Nine. His replacement: Republican Gary Johnson.

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