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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Still not sure where you stand with the candidates? Try this survey


In January, the possible choices for president were so broad that some voters may have thrown up their hands in confusion. With Washington's presidential primary ballots due on May 24, the choices are much fewer, but some voters may still be wondering who best matches their views on key issues. 

Election Compass USA 2016, a joint effort of European and American researchers and academics with news media partners that include The Spokesman-Review, may cast the widest net to date to determine voters’ views on issues and try to match them with this year’s crop of candidates seeking the White House.

Patterned after similar surveys for several European elections, Election Compass asks participants 30 questions on key issues, then matches each voter’s personal opinion to the candidate’s positions.

“The Election Compass does not tell users how they should vote, but shows users their proximity to each candidate across a range of policy issues,” Andre Krouwel, an associate professor of comparative politics and communications at Vrijie University of Amsterdam and the founder of Kieskompas, the Netherlands-based company that developed the survey tool. “With a simple mouse click, the positions of all the candidates are visible.”

In adapting the survey tool for the United States -- for better or worse, no one else elects a national leader the way Americans do -- Klieskompas enlisted the help of more than 25 academics from universities across the country, including Travis Ridout, the Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Policy at Washington State University.

The project hopes to continue to gather information about voters’ stands on various issues through the fall election, detect trends from daily responses and even map how issues are playing in different parts of the country.

Although Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, Washington presidential primary ballots were printed before some of the other candidates dropped out. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson are also on the Republican list.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are still courting voters for the Democratic nomination. Although the state party says it will ignore the results, the winner might point to them as proof that his or her campaign is stronger.

Voters can choose to mark the ballot for a candidate of either party, but not for a candidate from both parties. They must also mark the ballot to indicate support of the party for the candidate they chose. 

If you're having trouble getting to the survey with the icon, click here. 

Once you've got your presidential primary ballot marked you can mail it in or take it to a drop box location. Click here for more details.


Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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