Monday, November 06, 2006

Apology To Dispatch First, Then Disbelief toward Tiberi

I wrote about Candidate Match earlier, saying that I thought it was a neat tool, but that there was a big problem with the 12th District Comparison. I said that it was almost certainly an error on the part of Dispatch Media, but I later received a response from Jon Schwentes at Dispatch Media, and I owe them an apology:

Dear Mr. Sullivan:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding our interactive CandidateMatch feature.
The Dispatch Media Group sent questionnaires to all of the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates who earned a spot on Ohio's 2006 general-election ballot.
This year, as in 2004, Rep. Tiberi's campaign staff objected to the CandidateMatch format. As a result, this year, as in 2004, it chose to respond to each question with "Am ambivalent or have no opinion either way" -- as something of a protest, I presume.
Like you, I wish the Tiberi campaign had taken a different approach -- one that would have better served Ohioans trying to make educated decisions on Election Day.
Again, I appreciate your interest in our political coverage -- and in CandidateMatch in particular.
I'm curious -- did you find CandidateMatch helpful in the races for governor and/or U.S. Senate?
If you have any suggestions on ways we can improve the feature, please let us know.
Jon Schwantes
Corporate Director/News Convergence
The Columbus Dispatch/Dispatch Media Group

The Dispatch was not at fault, nor did they make a mistake. The system still works unfairly in Tiberi's favor for scoring purposes if the user isn't paying attention, but...

Just to be clear, if a candidate doesn't answer a particular question, it will either be marked as such ('candidate did not answer'), or an answer will be assigned based on public statements from the candidate, and clearly marked as an 'assigned' answer. The Tiberi campaign did not throw the survey away, or send it back with a statement that they refused to answer.

They actually filled in the bubbles and submitted the questionnaire.

So, when someone says, "I strongly believe that adult women should have unrestricted access to abortion, but my friend here disagrees, where does Pat Tiberi stand?" You can tell them that

Pat Tiberi is ambivalent on the question of unrestricted abortion.

Death Penalty? Pat has no opinion either way. It's not that you don't know his opinion, he simply does not have one.

Flat Tax? Ambivalent. Some days Yes, Some days No.

Is there a single issue that Pat cares about? Nope. But at least he's not lazy. He did care enough to take the time to say "I don't care" 30 separate times.

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