Online app matches voters with governor candidates

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

An online app from the Virginia Public Access Project, which provides non-partisan information about state politics, will give Virginians a chance to see how they align with the three candidates running for governor.

VPAP developed a 16-question quiz and Code for Hampton Roads built the site. The quiz is based on stated public positions of Democrat Ralph Northam, Republican Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Cliff Hyra.

Once people complete the survey, it calculates a percentage by which a person agrees with a particular candidate.

VPAP associate director Richard Borean said the organization developed the survey, called MyVaCandidate, based on how ISideWith.com’s popularity with a similar online app was for people to help choose which presidential candidate best aligns with their views.

Borean said VPAP worked to have broad topics that would not weigh people down when answering the questions and give people three choices based on each candidate’s views on a topic. The positions for each candidate came from their campaign websites, debate transcripts and news articles.

Roughly 5,000 people had used the app within the first few days it became available. Online, VPAP has been promoting it with the hashtag, #MyVaCandidate.

“People have been using the hashtag in ways I didn’t think they would, more conversationally,” Borean said.

When someone tweets out survey results, it’ll read they agree with a particular candidate a certain percentage of the time, followed by the hashtag, #myvacandidate.

People can take the survey on their smartphone or computer. Borean says those using a Microsoft browser should not use Internet Explorer because Microsoft no longer supports it. People can use Microsoft Edge, or any other browser.

“I see a lot of people saying, ‘There’s no surprise here,’ or ‘I side with this person,’ but I’ve also seen quite a few people say, ‘I’m surprised that I match this person, or at all with a candidate who I don’t agree with,’ ” Borean said. “It is providing some utility just outside of knowing who your match is because it’s showing people they might agree with somebody a little bit more than previously thought. It’s happening across candidates.”

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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