If you’ve been doing any campaign research on Google recently chances are that you came across a widget like this:
It looks like Google is upping their election transparency game, which is a win-win for all. Now if you have any questions on a candidate (from their opinions on foreign policy to the amount of proceeds that their campaign has received from individuals vs. PACs or Super PACS), chances are that you’re just a few clicks away.
But how do we know that the information is credible? It looks like Google is partnering with a Washington D.C.-based organization called the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), which bills itself as “the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data, and analysis available anywhere.”
Naturally there’s the question of whether or not the organization has any political leanings, etc. etc. etc., but as naive as it might sound, I trust Google on this one. For what it’s worth, the Center for Responsive Politics has also received a Four Star Charity rating from an organization called Charity Navigator.
Why This Is A Big Deal: Part 1
First off, this is noteworthy advancement as a tech feature. Over the past several years in particular, Google has been making it easier and easier to access information straight from the Google Search Results Page (without having to click on any links). Want to know what 238 divided by 4 is? Simply type it into the Google Search Bar, and you’ll find out that it’s 59.5. Looking for a good coffee shop to study in around Charlotte, North Carolina? Type in that string of words and you’ll get an answer. Now, if you’re curious about a presidential candidate, you can get a thorough run-down on them just by typing in their name.
Of course, this is all because Google wants to keep you on their page as long as possible. As long you are using a Google product, you are giving them data that they can use to be a better search engine and company, and figure out more about you as individual user (targeted ads, etc.). Google is in the business of data, and they know how to get, which is fine by me…until the Google robot invasion commences.
Why This Is a Big Deal: Part 2
But making this election information is also very significant from a financial point of view. It seems that in this election more than any other, from whom presidential candidates are getting funds and how they are using them has figured heavily into campaigning efforts. The starkest contrast of this is between Bernie Sanders, who prides himself on individual contributions, and Hillary Clinton, who’s had to defend her acceptance of funds from Super PACs and other groups. What’s more fascinating, because this has not been so much an issue for Republican candidates, who more or less equally rely on money from Super PACs and other organizations, with the exception of Donald Trump, whose been able to finance himself fairly well on his own, in addition to receiving funds from others.
But don’t take my word for it, look at the Google widgets!