Frequently Asked Questions Kieskompas

What does the pencil indicate?

The point of the pencil is the exact average of your answers. This is YOUR POSITION in the political landscape.

What is the ellipse around the pencil?

The ellipse surrounding your position is the standard deviation. The standard deviation indicates to what extent your answers differ mutually. The standard deviation is the average deviation of the mean, one could say.

The scatter plot of your answers is visualised this way. The size of the ellipse is an indication of the consistency in your answers. If your answers are very consistent, your ellipse will be small. If your answers are less consistent, the standard deviation - and the ellipse likewise - becomes larger.

What does ‘economic left’ indicate?

Leftist candidates usually support reducing economic inequality by redistribution of wealth. These candidates are positioned on the left side of the graph. Leftist candidates devote oneself to more government interference in the economic realm. More information about left/right.

What does ‘economic right’ indicate?

Rightist candidates find economic liberties more important. These candidates are positioned in the right section of the graph. Rightist candidates argue for organising the society according to the rules of the market, with less government interference. More information about left/right.

What does ‘social liberal’ indicate?

This social or moral-cultural dimension represents non-economic issues. The social liberal side of this dimension represents a position that favours affirmative action policies, granting special privileges and concessions to (racial) minority groups. Also associated with this liberal position are policies favouring women’s rights (including abortion), issues concerning law and order (such as gun control), the separation of church and state (opposing prayers in schools and the teaching of creationism), environmental protection policies and a more cosmopolitan and multilateral stance on foreign policy issues. More information about social liberalism and social conservatism.

What does ‘social conservative’ indicate?

The social or moral-cultural dimension represents non-economic issues. The social conservative position indicates that candidates reject ‘favouritism’ towards minorities, want to uphold traditional family values and feel the need for a more unilateral course in foreign policy (‘patriotism’). Often, conservatives have a more nationalistic outlook in life and value the local community. This conservative position also indicates that candidates favour strict enforcement of law and order by the police and other authorities, they are in favour of religious education, including prayers in school. More information about social liberalism and social conservatism.

Who is responsible for this website?

See colophon

Is this website independent?

Yes, the content is made by Kieskompas BV, an independent company. The Electoral Compass uses scientific methods to position the candidates, without favouring any of them. The political positions of every candidate are completely transparent and can be checked by every user. Simply click on any candidate in the graph and you will see all documentation for every single position.

What will happen with my responses?

Electoral Compass USA is entirely anonymous. Your responses are used for scientific research and may be used for articles in newspapers or for other media outlets. Your personal details will not be used. Your responses remain entirely anonymous. Electoral Compass enables you to discover your position in the political landscape.
See privacy statement.

Is it possible to save my responses?

Yes. Click ‘Save your position’ under ‘Other Functions’. You can save your responses and position in the political landscape by providing your e-mail address and a personal password. In this manner it is possible to come back later and analyse your position further. You answers will remain anonymous See privacy statement.

Can I erase my responses?

Yes. If you want to start all over again, you can click the button ‘Clear your position’ under ‘Other functions’. Then your responses and position will be erased from your computer. Also after closing the internet browser, your responses will be erased automatically.

Are the positions authorised by the candidates or parties?

We do not allow the candidates to influence our propositions. The selection of propositions is based on a scientific method in which we extensively analysed which issues candidates emphasise in their platforms and other policy proposals on their websites and elsewhere (the so-called saliency-approach). We depart from the assumption that the issues that are frequently emphasised by candidates are obviously important to them. Subsequently we also asked a group of experts – most of them political scientists that study American politics – which issues they think will play an important role in these elections. Finally, we also asked a distinguished team of journalists – that observe and study American politics on a day-to-day basis – which issues they think we should include to have a fair and comprehensive representation of the relevant issues in this election. This analysis of both the policy proposals of all candidates and the expert opinions of scholars and journalists have resulted in the questionnaire that is now on your screen.

The positioning of the candidates was carried out with a comprehensive and objective method with regard to the policy proposals of the candidates. Multiple coders positioned each candidate and each positioning was subsequently checked by a group of (international) scholars assembled at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Their scientific independence and integrity guarantees that the positioning was carried out according to high academic standards and are correctly represented in the political landscape, based on strict scientific methods and well-established theoretical assumptions. Electoral Compass is completely transparent, all positions and their justifications are accessible by a simple click on each of the candidates.

Why is my position not corresponding with that of a presidential candidate?

Your position in the spectrum is the average of the responses you provided. The chance that your position corresponds exactly with that of a candidate is very small.

For instance, if your position is in between two candidates, you can analyse which candidate is the closest to you by selecting the issues in any order you prefer. Simply select the issues you think are the most important. Then you can see what policies candidates have proposed on each of the issues included in the Electoral Compass.

What kind of voting advice does Electoral Compass give me?

Electoral Compass does not give you a voting advice. This website merely indicates your position in the political landscape and the position of the candidates. You can decide for yourself which candidate you find the most appropriate.

Why is my position close to a candidate’s, while substantively I should be corresponding with another candidate?

If you are close to a candidate in the political landscape, this means that on average you are just as left-right or progressive-traditional as this candidate. Yet, this is merely an average. It is possible that your response to one issue is more progressive than the response of a candidate, while on other issues you were more traditional. On average, then you could end up on roughly the same position, while you have different opinions on the specific issues. Thus, you can be very close to a candidate, while still having substantial disagreement on specific issues. While often you will find that you agree on most issues with candidates that are close to you, it is nevertheless recommendable you analyse your agreement on the various issues by de-selecting themes you think are less or not at all important to you. Simply click on Issues and analyse your position.

Moreover, because your position is projected in a two-dimensional graph, it is very well possible that you agree to a large extent with one candidate on the left-right axis, while you do not agree with that same candidate on the social-liberal/social-conservative axis. You have to keep in mind that the candidate the closest to you position in the political landscape does not necessarily have the same opinions as you have. This candidate is just on average the closest to your position on the two dimensions. You can obtain a clearer view of where you stand in comparison with the presidential candidates if you eliminate some issues by using the menu in the right column.

Which candidates are included in the Electoral Compass?

Democratic candidates, in alphabetical order: Republican candidates, in alphabetical order: