Reader Poll: How Will You Pick Your Gov Candidate?

balloIn the event that you’re not a voter who chooses a candidate by the quantity of their yard signs you see on the way to the polls, we want to know how you’re going to make your decision in the primary.

The Democratic field for the governor’s race is immense, and with 8 candidates already, there are many factors to consider but now that Governor Corbett has a primary challenger, Republicans can play too.

One way to choose a candidate is by their policies or ideologies. Candidates with legislative voting records or executives that have successful policies under their belt are easy to measure in this category.

A less scientific decision-maker could be personality. Voters may want an executive who is charismatic, a good communicator and approachable or someone who is more reserved.

Endorsements are also important to some voters who want to see what groups and organizations back a candidate. The support of activist groups and labor organizations is a good way to see what a candidate’s future policies may be.

Geographic representation can play a factor in voter’s decision making. Perhaps you think that a governor from your hometown would better represent your interests than one from across the state.

Another concern is elect-ability in the general. Your initial favorite candidate may not have the statewide appeal, but would that change your pick?

Finally, there is money. A candidate who is able to raise a lot of money in a primary race may have a leg up in the general election. While you can’t necessarily buy an election, you can buy large quantities of advertising.

Tell us how you’ll make up your mind here:

What is the most important factor in picking your governor candidate?


  • Policies and Ideology (66%)
  • Electability (26%)
  • Personality (4%)
  • Geography (2%)
  • Money (2%)
  • Endorsements (1%)

Total Voters: 499

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23 Responses

  1. Do-
    You over-estimate the abilities of most programmers to turn out something like this without background/experience in politics and political databases.

    I just got this week’s snapshot today. It’s going to take me several hours just to prepare the data for the new election cycle and update the associated screens and formatting. Just the pre-processing and import of the file itself takes about 2 hours, because I add all sorts of groupings. For example: identifying related households, computing voting scores and compiling voter turnout statistics for all 9,300 precincts (by party) and registration statistics. If it takes hours to re-generate the database, how long do you think it took to come up with all the queries and programming? (BTW, I also geo-code all the addresses by lat/long).

    As for the pricing, if they are charging a thousand per MONTH for 500,000. It’s still going to cost a lot more than a thousand for six times as many records (even though the per record price would get better). The primary is 5 months long.
    (Though, I’d only be willing to help Bob for the one month required to get on the ballot during petition time.)

    I’m not worried about losing Bob’s business
    1) I’m still not convinced he will attempt to get on the ballot
    2) If he did, he would inflict so much damage on the GOP brand, that I’d be tempted to pay him to let me help. 🙂

  2. Nationbuilder does not give prices above 500k records, but it clearly says, “Contact us for larger plans.” http://nationbuilder.com/pricing

    I merely point out this sleight of hand on your part to show that I am an honest broker without a dog in the hunt as you do. I would be as upset as you are if someone was giving away the keys to my castle too, but you are way exaggerating what it takes to create a clean dataset with multiple user interface.

    I’m sure you have a fine product that’s competitively priced with the other off-the-rack options, but no one should be spending more than $1000 total for this service. It won’t take any of your time at all either–any programmer worth their salt can program it in a day, but give them 3. Heck, David gives you most of the specs to cut-and-paste below.

  3. Do-
    I quoted directly from Nationbuilder’s pricing webpage.

    As for Primary challenges, one of the Philly city council members used my system a few years ago and knocked 5 other candidates off the ballot.

    Whatever he was using previously had been extremely slow and he was expending a lot of effort just to challenge a single candidate. My system was not only faster, but I allowed him multiple logins. As a result, he was able to have his team work on several candidates at once and expand his original challenge plans.

    (Had his opponents had my system, they would have discovered their petitions were deficit and could have gathered more signatures.)

    The VAN system used by the state party is subsidized and has the economy of scale/volume. There really isn’t enough business in PA for the companies you mention to give a competitive price.

    I can be competitive because I’ve already done all the difficult work and have no staff or overhead as ongoing expenses.

    I looked up NationBuilder. I didn’t find any pricing for VoterGravity.

    I’d be interested in what the GOP charges candidates for their system, if anyone knows those numbers.

    What I have isn’t some rinky-dink student project running in a MS Access database.

    Feel free to offer your services to Bob’s campaign, if it actually ever gets off the ground.
    However, the challenges of dealing with the real data (and cleaning bad records) are not trivial.

  4. I think you’ve overestimated Nationbuilder’s volume pricing. I’d also I’d look into Votergravity. But if I had to do it again, I’d probably just go back to the guy who did it for me last time. Getting primary signatures is not rocket science and hasn’t changed in years. You don’t need to hire a rocket scientist, but many of that caliber are out of work in this economy and selling their programming services. Updating my guy’s code to all the mapped county elections would be pretty turnkey, which is why i’d estimate paying much less than last time for the entire state.

  5. Do-
    Pricing is usually based upon number of voter. The state party charges 0.4 (or 0.5) cents per voter for basic access and 0.7 cents per voter for full access (private data and tracking).

    Now, that’s for the entire state, Dems, Reps, Indy, etc. even though you need only your own party for a primary, and they aren’t pro-rating it. Also, they are not distinguishing between Active and InActive voters.

    So, in Bob’s case, there are slightly under 3 million voters of interest for a Primary election.

    Nationbuilder charges $999 per month for 500,000 person database. So, that’s $6,000/month for 3 million records.

    My pricing to Dem Gov and Lt. Gov candidates is only $1,000/month for a system specialized for PA (which also includes 7 million PA state campaign finance contribution records).

    My normal pricing is twice that, but given the plethora of statewide candidates, I expect to do some volume business this cycle. 🙂

    After the Dec 31st reporting cycle, candidates will start spending for whatever they need for infrastructure, including data.

  6. DD,
    You’re right that the state file only has 10-20% phone numbers, and you’re right about the steps it takes to create something useful. But, you’re dead wrong about the price. I understand this hurts your business, but it helps democracy.
    On my life, my system (which sounds like the specs you shared) that I had built from scratch cost less than $500 and was importable to my phone (not an App).
    I don’t know what they charge, probably less than DD, but I’d also check out Nationbuilder and Votergravity to compare. Aristotle is probably somewhere between DD and the Dems.

  7. Do-
    You must be charging $1/hour LOL

    Putting together a quality web based system, with multiple levels of access (precinct, ward, township, county, region, state) and permissions is hardly a $500 undertaking.

    BTW, the $20 voter files don’t contain phone numbers.

    Like I said, the state party charges $56,000 for their VAN system. If everyone could make a $500 system, they couldn’t get away with it.

    And, unlike my system, they don’t even have an Android app that lets you download any precinct street list in the state into your phone.

    As for voter histories, there are 67 counties and each county stores their voter histories in a different order. So, you have to unravel that for each one to link each election cycle into its own group.

    It’s not the trivial exercise you pretend it is. Just loading raw files into a database does not automatically create a useful system that can be used by non-programmers.

    I’ve got hundreds of committee people each year who use my system to generate street lists and search for voters. Web-distributed, user-friendly systems are not created over night.

  8. ” …turning into something useful is more than a few hundred dollars worth of programming…”

    Wrong. I speak from personal experience. The first time I did it for under $500, soup to nuts. I didn’t even have to perform my own queries if I didn’t want to, they were run for me. I’m confident I could do it again for much less next time. This is easy work for anyone with a minor in CS.

    What David does has become commoditized.

  9. Do-
    The state voter file is $20. However, turning into something useful is more than a few hundred dollars worth of programming, particularly if you want to target super voters, run queries, and have reports in an online system.
    However my feelings, helping Bob get on get on the ballot would be a sincere effort. I’m convinced that Bob is bad for the GOP brand. Bob has the opposite impression and could believe he was taking advantage of me to enhance the GOP.

    So, we’d each have the motivated self interest that we were teaching the other a lesson.
    🙂

  10. Don’t waste your money with David Diano, Bob (especially after how he’s treated you).

    Spend $20 at DOS for the full statewide voter export. Then hire a computer programmer for a couple hundred bucks to put it into a DB. There’s 20 years of voter history there and the computer guy/gal can give you whatever permutations you want.

  11. Robert
    I strongly believe in underdog candidates getting a shot at getting on the ballot.

    Considering how much this would damage Corbett and reinforce what is wrong with the Republican party, I’m all in favor of seeing Bob give Corbett a primary challenge.

    I just don’t believe that Bob will follow through. If Bob were believed serious, Corbett and GOP leadership would just buy him off to keep him out of the race.

    I run my own statewide voter database. Among it’s many features is a set of tools to assist with petitions.

    Currently the Democrats charge their statewide candidates $56,000 for access (win or lose the primary). I offer my system at a monthly rate and for far less.

    I would certainly consider giving Bob’s campaign assistance for the month surrounding petitions and help defending a petition challenge.

  12. How about something like leadership ability or management competence? For people who believe that it is important for government to work well, these characteristics should be near the top.

  13. @DD

    Guzzardi is actively recruiting people who would want to circulate petitions and, of course, you are cordially invited to help him achieve this end; he will need ~2000 signatures with at least 100 from each of 10 counties, and concerned Constitutional Conservatives from all over the Commonwealth have contacted him to volunteer their services.

  14. “Do you have a special computer program that helps you generate gibberish?”

  15. Bob-
    Do you have a special computer program that helps you generate gibberish?

    The only way primary voters will be able to choose you is if they write your name in by hand, because you are not even going to be on the ballot, nor have any literature or ads expressing a desire to run.

    Getting on the ballot will be even more difficult for you than for most candidates, because you aren’t even going to file papers or form a campaign committee or hire anyone.

    Posting your campaign victory fantasy p0rn on a news blog is not the same as actually running for office.

  16. The polling is consistent that Corbett cannot win in November. Neither can I. So the Republican Primary Voter will have a choice between two candidates who will lose in November. At this point, unrestricted by real world, practical politics, I think the primary voter will choose the candidate who is most likely to uphold most of his or her policy preferences.

    Given Corbett’s numbers, it is hard to see how the hack committee and operatives will work enthusiastically for a candidate who will lose to almost any Democrat.

  17. It’s not as clear-cut as a single most important factor.

    In some cases, in a Primary, where there are two candidates and one is destined to win, but the other has better policies and electable, I can see voting for the unelectable guy to send the winner a message about what policies you support.

    In a race like 2014, where McCord and Schwartz may be the front-runners, and you prefer Hanger, there is another factor. If you think Schwartz could lose to Corbett, and Hanger can’t win the nomination, you might go for McCord (assuming you liked his chances better) to block Schwartz.

    My point is that it’s not only just one issue making a selection with this large a field. No one wants to risk Corbett getting reelected.

  18. With the vast majority of people caring less about money, perhaps the media (Politics PA included) will focus on the issues rather than which horse has the most money and endorsements in the horse race. I am sick of hearing who has how much and which pipsqueak Local endorsed who

  19. It is gratifying that this polling shows “Policies and Ideology (76%)” is the overwhelming choice, as one envisions what would occur during Corbett-Guzzardi debates.

    Guzzardi is uniquely qualified to discuss all legislation passed during recent years–as analyzed on his “Liberty Index” website–and to correlate each expenditure with his overarching concern about the need to achieve limited government; for example, he will predictably oppose any “fracking user fees” when the intent, in part, is to be “redistributional” [a la BHO].

    Guzzardi will undoubtedly contrast what has [and, more often, “hasn’t”] been accomplished with what Corbett had pledged, superimposed upon his silence regarding the Sandusky affair [despite multiple entreaties delivered during the past year–by this committeeman and by others–that he hold a no-holds-barred press-conference @ which he would explain-away, if possible, the allegation that he slow-rolled the investigation and thereby knowingly allowed this child molester to continue to roam the streets].

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