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Americans Elect Fact Check on its Rating and Promotion of Republican Buddy Roemer

Buddy Roemer, receiving top-rank promotion by Americans ElectShortly after Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer appeared at an Americans Elect promotional event, Americans Elect released its ratings system that promotes some politicians as a better “national match” than others. This is part of Americans Elect’s leadup to the nation’s first ever online presidential nomination in less than six months’ time. Who received the honor and the favor of the top “National Match” stop out of all the hundreds of politicians listed? It just so happened to be Buddy Roemer.

What’s the methodology for the pick of Buddy Roemer as a “74% match”? The short and brutal answer is that we don’t know because Americans Elect hasn’t told us. Americans Elect has published one sentence fragment to explain its criteria: “Public figures whose views most closely match a national survey by Ipsos Public Affairs on priorities and answers to the core questions.” But Americans Elect hasn’t published the list of questions in that Ipsos Public Affairs survey, a minimal standard set out by the National Council on Public Polls, of which Ipsos Public Affairs is a member.

The other half of that sentence fragment, “answers to the core questions,” consists of a set of nine questions that Americans Elect drew up without the consultation or approval of its membership base, then subcontracted out to a company called “On the Issues” to research. And then there’s the “Top Priority” of Buddy Roemer, listed by Americans Elect as “Education.”

We can’t check against the Ipsos Public Affairs poll results that Americans Elect commissioned, because Americans Elect is keeping them secret. But we can fact check the “core question” responses claimed for Buddy Roemer by Americans Elect along with the “Top Priority” of “Education” they’ve assigned to him.

Top Priority: Education?
Number of the Latest 50 Tweets by Buddy Roemer having to do with Education: 0

Issues listed in Buddy Roemer Twitter profile: “End unfair influence of corp $ in DC; end unfair trade; close tax loopholes.”

Number of mentions of the words “Educate,” “Education,” “Schools” or “Students” on the home page of Buddy Roemer’s campaign website: 0

Number of mentions of the words “Educate,” “Education,” “Schools” or “Students” on Buddy Roemer’s blog in the past month: 0

Number of mentions of the words “Educate,” “Education,” “Schools” or “Students” on the Presidential Candidate Comparison Chart released by Buddy Roemer’s presidential campaign: 0

Order in which “Education” is listed on Buddy Roemer campaign Issues page out of 12 listed issues: last

# of words dedicated to explaining issue of “Education” on Buddy Roemer campaign Issues page, compared to all 12 listed issues: least

Buddy Roemer on the “Core Questions”: Accurate?
Take a look at this special page consisting of Buddy Roemer’s supposed answers to Americans Elect’s corporate-generated “Core Questions.” They aren’t really Buddy Roemer answering Americans Elect’s questions. Rather, Americans Elect has given a contract to the “On The Issues” company to look through Buddy Roemer’s public statements and decide what his answer would be. But is this process accurate or arbitrary?

Take “Core Question 1″ and Buddy Roemer’s supposed “answer” to it:

Question 1 answer B on Economy:

When you think about the US budget deficit, which of the following solutions is closest to your opinion?
A: Cutting existing programs
B: More spending cuts than tax increases (mix of both solutions)
C: More tax increases than spending cuts (mix of both solutions)
D: Raising Taxes
E: Unsure

AmericansElect.org CANDIDATE ANSWERS:
Candidate indicated ‘B’ on 1 out of 1 statements.
Government stimulus creates jobs, but only in China: B on question 1

Follow the link in this answer, based on only one statement by Buddy Roemer, and you’ll be taken to this news snippet:

Government stimulus creates jobs, but only in China

Buddy Roemer has just issued a sharp statement in response to President Obama’s jobs speech. “The President’s jobs plan will certainly create jobs–jobs in China,” Roemer said. “Another $450 billion government stimulus is not the answer. The President’s job-killing economic policies have decimated domestic manufacturing, shipped thousands of good American jobs overseas and saddled future generations with an historic level of debt they may likely never be able to escape.”
Source: Response to 2011 Jobs Speech in The Weekly Standard , Sep 8, 2011

Look up that article in the Weekly Standard and you’ll see it’s been quoted in its entirety by On The Issues for Americans Elect. That’s all there is to Roemer’s declaration in the Weekly Standard. So read those words carefully. Is Roemer’s declaration calling for “More spending cuts than tax increases (mix of both solutions)”? No. Roemer’s statement doesn’t call for spending cuts — rather, it criticizes spending increases — and it says absolutely nothing about tax increases.

Is Roemer’s campaign position on taxing and spending best captured by response ‘B’? Maybe. Maybe not. In either case, Americans Elect doesn’t document it.

Americans Elect’s shoddy documentation problem isn’t limited to “Roemer’s answer” on spending cuts and tax increases. Check out the question, “When you think about healthcare reform in the United States, which of the following solutions is closest to your opinion?” The “answer” supplied in Roemer’s name: “C: The Government should have a limited role in providing healthcare insurance.” But the speech that is listed by the Americans Elect contractor as a source for this answer doesn’t talk about government having a limited role in providing healthcare insurance. Roemer’s speech touches only briefly on health care, and takes its few words to advocate for tort reform, against self-interested pharmaceutical companies and against invasive private insurance companies. That’s not the same answer. Is Roemer’s campaign position on health care best captured by response ‘C’? Maybe. Maybe not. In either case, Americans Elect doesn’t document it.

Then there’s the one “Social Issues” core question, which has to do with same-sex marriage. Americans Elect has Buddy Roemer listed as advocating for Answer B: “Same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions, but not to marry in the traditional sense.” But the source Americans Elect’s contractor cites doesn’t feature Buddy Roemer saying anything at all about civil unions. Furthermore, Buddy Roemer declares in his statement that states should be allowed to answer the same-sex marriage question as they see fit, not that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry. On this question Americans Elect’s grading system for candidates seems completely at odds with its documentation.

In one last example, Roemer is assigned the “answer” to an environmental question that “A: Natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity.” But again this assertion is supported with only one source, which is Roemer’s declaration of opposition to ethanol subsidies. That answer has almost nothing to do with the idea that “natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity.”

Conclusion
Based on some undisclosed algorithm combining three standards…

1. Alignment with an Ipsos national poll whose questions and responses Americans Elect hasn’t released to the public
2. “Education” as Buddy Roemer’s assigned top priority, and
3. “Answers” assigned to Buddy Roemer by an Americans Elect contractor

… Americans Elect has ruled that Buddy Roemer is a “Top National Match” with American public opinion out of hundreds of other politicians. Buddy Roemer has received the favorable top spot on Americans Elect’s “Candidates” page as a result (a communication favoring Roemer that appears to violate the spirit of the Americans Elect bylaws). But the basis for alignment according to the first standard has been kept secret by Americans Elect, and Americans Elect’s contentions about Buddy Roemer’s priorities and manufactured “answers” are either poorly documented or directly at odds with what Buddy Roemer is saying and doing in his Republican presidential campaign. All of these standards have been chosen in top-down fashion by self-appointed Americans Elect corporate leadership. None of these standards have been developed in consultation with the Americans Elect rank-and-file.

If the process leading to Buddy Roemer’s identification as the #1 “Top National Match” is any indication of the underlying rigor of Americans Elect’s rating system, then there’s no good reason to place confidence in those ratings and every reason to be suspicious. If Americans Elect wants to build confidence in its process for promoting certain politicians over others, then it must make its ratings system subject to member input in development, to transparency in process, and to public review and audit of results.

10 comments to Americans Elect Fact Check on its Rating and Promotion of Republican Buddy Roemer

  • Furthermore, if Buddy Roemer is really such a great match with Americans’ political ideals, then how come he’s got almost no actual political support from the American people? Roemer’s campaign is struggling to get even a single percent approval in the polls, and he’s got a tiny number of volunteers.

  • Tom

    Oh boy, yet another political group out of touch with the actual electorate, what a surprise!

  • Would agree. “Education” makes absolutely no sense. But it isn’t just Buddy’s profile they’ve fu*&ed up. Look at all of them. They need to fix their algorhythm.

  • Jeff

    Buddy Roemer probably doesn’t have a lot of support because there is no way to get media attention and his name out there. I consider myself somewhat in tune with the Presidential election, and I have never heard of Buddy Roemer. I didn’t google him yet, and I have no idea if he coached at Penn State or has some other liability (just kidding…). At any rate, his actual generic answers are not lunatic sounding, so maybe through AmericansElect he will get his chance.

    I haven’t seen the Libertarian party candidate or the Green Party candidate or the Nazi Party candidate either get any exposure by Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc. Essentially, the reason Buddy or anyone else who might deserve consideration gets no exposure is that the media will not talk about them. Unless you get annointed by one of the two oligopoly parties, you have little chance as the media won’t even consider you. That is one reason Buddy may not have exposure. Or, ask Huntsman…..he is in a party and getting no exposure. Same difference.

  • Nancy Bordier and I posted a piece entitled “A System-Changing Solution for the OWS Movement?” here: http://bit.ly/tWnFLz It cites your work favorably, JIm.

    • Joe,

      Thanks for the note. I’ll quote an excerpt from your article at http://bit.ly/tWnFLz for its well-organized five points at which Americans Elect represents a step backward from current democratic practice:

      1. State laws allow eligible voters to register to vote in any political party they wish, and parties do not have the power to expel any voter or prevent them from voting in a party primary.

      In contrast, AE bylaws specify that any person can be “terminated from Americans Elect without prior notice by the Board”. (See sections 2.4 and 5.4 of the bylaws.)

      2. AE’s online nominating convention circumvents the state-by-state primaries conducted by the two major parties without replacing them with an equally responsive alternative as far as voter-candidate interaction is concerned.

      Specifically, AE asserts in its bylaws that the “secure Internet connection” that it provides voters participating in its convention is a substitute for a “physical presence” in a state. (See sections 8. and 8.1. of Americans Elect bylaws.)

      Whether AE’s “Internet connection” is a desirable replacement for face-to-face caucuses and primary campaigns at the state level is a doubtful and arguable proposition.

      3. Unlike government-sponsored party primaries conducted at state level in which government officials are responsible for ensuring the accurate tallying of the ballots cast, it appears that AE, a private corporation, intends to have the votes cast in its online nominating convention tallied by its own corporate employees on its own in-house computers.

      If AE had instead conferred this task on a third party without ties to the organization, the accuracy of the results could have been externally verified.

      4. AE’s bylaws contain a provision stipulating that its online nominating convention does not require a quorum. (See section 8.3.)

      Presumably, this also means that there is no minimum number of votes that must be cast by voters in a particular state before AE can legally place its presidential ticket on its ballot lines in that state.

      Whether an online nominating convention that has no quorum is a desirable and legal replacement for state-level primaries is also an arguable proposition. For it might well lead to a presidential ticket nominated by an extremely small fraction of the electorate being placed automatically and simultaneously on AE ballot lines in all 50 states.

      Quite possibly AE is unconcerned by the prospect that its nominating convention and ticket are not representative or responsive to the “vast majority of citizens”, for the reason that its overriding goal may be just to place on its ballot lines the ticket its committees have teased out of its online nominating process.

      Once it does so, we think it likely that large amounts of campaign financing from the 1% will be expended to make the ticket appear responsive to the “vast majority of citizens” infuriated by the conduct of the two major parties, drive AE’s newly forged electoral base to the polls to vote for AE’s ticket, and quite possibly catapult the nascent Americans Elect party and its candidates into the winner’s circle on election day.”

      5. At the same time AE is loudly protesting the two major parties’ their grip on the nation’s electoral machinery, and their use of it to prevent third party candidates from winning elections, AE’s bylaws appear designed to similarly restrict competition, by preventing unwelcome external challengers who do not participate in AE’s online nominating process from challenging the process, the nominees, or the outcome.

      Section 8.6 of AE bylaws state that the “exclusive means” for any candidate to get on its ballot lines is through its “internet convention”. If state laws allow a “presidential primary election vote”, these votes shall be “advisory only”.

      I encourage others to read the entire article.

  • By what criteria is Americans Elect “in contention” more than other “third” political parties?!? The Green Party has a nominating system firmly in place, real grassroots activists in 50 states, and more than one presidential candidate.

    Americans Elect has none of those things.

    • Stephen Kent Gray

      47 States and DC

      Next major priorities include: New Mexico and Nevada

      We are currently petitioning in: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia

      We plan to petition in: Every single state except for Georgia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, the three states with the most anti-democratic, obstructive ballot rules. Getting on the ballot in these states requires the expenditure of as much as $100,000 apiece. If you’d like to help make that happen let us know.

      We are on the ballot in: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawai’i, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia

  • Nobody Asked Me...But,

    Roemer’s campaign strategy was to focus only on New Hampshire for 3+ months of intensive “retail” politics, personally meeting and talking to voters. His primary message of campaign finance reform did not resonate. He received only 4/10 of 1% in the primary. He has now dropped out of the GOP to focus on obtaining the Americans Elect nomination. His AE profile has changed and he is now characterized as “Economy.”

    This entire AE business is searching for an impossible goal. No new third party has ever nor will ever elect a president. But nascent third parties have acted as a spoiler in American political history. They take votes away from a frontrunner and thereby give the election to a less-favored candidate.

    An old political trick often used is to find and finance a political candidate who will divide the voters of a political rival, thus assuring the victory of the next candidate down the ladder. In a presidential election with the electoral college, winner-take-all mode, a third party spoiler candidate who can capture 1% or more of a key state can change the outcome of the entire election.

    The fact that the Board and advisers of AE consists mainly of Democrat party players, implies that AE is set up to divide the Republican vote in order to assure an Obama victory. There are many dissatisfied Democrat and independent voters who will not vote for Obama but may be unhappy to have to vote for a Republican. Offering a third party candidate allows them to vote for that “reform” party instead of the Republican candidate.

    Roemer was, by his own account, a true conservative Republican. Now he says he never was really a Republican and has become and independent.

    It all smells like the old divide and conquer, third-party shell game.

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