"A word cloud of reveals the following topics as being the most popular things discussed during the debate." Source: Politicit.com
In an age where there is little political transparency, it is difficult for the public to tactfully determine who they are voting for. Now, an online start up focused on politics, PoliticIt, seeks to make it easy for voters and politicians to determine political standings and influence. Josh Light, CEO of PoliticIt, believes that change lies within social media outlets and the discussions they facilitate between users.
Light and the PoliticIt group have designed a program that collects data about candidates in order to produce an "It Score." This score determines the likelihood of whether or not a candidate will win their respective race, as well as evaluate the candidate's digital influence.
Light says that up to this point, the It Score has predicted over 300 races in 39 states by calculating digital influence, with predictions having a 90 percent accuracy rate. Whenever the tool makes an incorrect prediction, the PoliticIt team corrects the data so that the program can improve. In this regard, the program actually learns from its mistakes, making its continually improving algorithm a form of artificial intelligence.
An It Score can be affected by several factors, but one of the most important is online buzz. PoliticIt can track what people are saying about candidates on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, as well as can analyze everything from comments about a user's thoughts on a candidate to full scale, multi-user, political discussions that take place on a social media platform.
PoliticIt also factors in mainstream media coverage, and the public's reaction to that coverage. Light said that he could not reveal which parts of the data are most important in calculating the prediction, but one thing is for sure: the It Score is something that could change politics forever.
Leveling The Playing Field
Gathering data is something that can cost candidates thousands of dollars, and candidates with ample money have a clear advantage when it comes to utilizing analytics. However, The PoliticIt team plans on creating a level playing field for all politicians, including new entrants or independents who might not have the financial resources that some of their opponents enjoy.
The PoliticIt software, explains Light, is inexpensive and easy to use and understand. It has the potential to give lesser known candidates a chance to gauge their influence and strategize improvement.
Light believes his website and software will help promote transparency within politics. “I think that making information and data regarding our political system open to the public and presenting it in a way that is easy for people to consume will result in people holding politicians accountable for their actions," said Light. "This will result in politicians passing legislation that favor the people. Lobbyists will likely always have influence, but the types of legislation that they push to politicians will have to align with the will of the people."
Light used SOPA as an example of how social media can be used to keep politicians accountable and transparent. After the bill was proposed, social media outlets blew up with protests. Online discussions about the bill and the implications it may have on free speech popped up all over the web.
These types of online discussions didn't start or end with SOPA, however, and will only continue to grow. Light believes that he is promoting transparency by providing the population with true information about candidates that is easy to digest.
"As our generation gets older, politicians are going to have to stop lying to the constituents because the constituents are going to know when they lie...because it’s getting really easy to know," says Light. "By the same token, politicians who are honest and effectively representative of their constituency will be rewarded with continued support and reelection success."
As more information becomes easier to access, political discourse becomes more open and inclusive. Light says that in today's world, online discussions have the potential to significantly influence election results. Greater political awareness of this trend will make flip-flopping, inconsistency, and dishonesty all the more apparent. The new, hungry-for-change generation can revolutionize the political process through online mediums and tools like PoliticIt that keep a close watch.
Make sure to check out PoliticIt and its tools