It’s no secret that a cadre of data analysts helped President Obama secure a second term: during the campaign trail, the electorate was rigorously measured and assessed by a battery of new tracking tools.
The proliferation of data has been harnessed by political candidates in new ways. But how can this data make politicians more accountable to you?
A startup called ElectNext has developed a database that can determine where politicians really stand on the issues. It gleans its information from organizations like The Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack, Follow the Money, and also works with open data-friendly cities like Philadelphia.
“If ElectNext can be the vehicle that helps us deliver open data to the public, that’s a perfect partnership,” said Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Labs, the data arm of the Sunlight Foundation.
The company just closed a $1.3 million funding round so it can bring its data to where it’s needed most: the media.
“We are completely focused on building data-driven companion experiences for political news,” founder Keya Dannenbaum (pictured, above) told VentureBeat.
When ElectNext launched at the DEMO conference in October 2012, it was focused on consumers. In the run-up to the Presidential election, the survey would help you decide who to vote for. “Big data is the biggest trend in politics today. Yet all the benefit of that big data is going to industry, not individuals. We’re here to change that,” Dannenbaum said on stage at DEMO.
The mission struck a nerve with the audience. Andreessen Horowitz partner Frank Chen wrapped up the reviews calling ElectNext the most compelling presentation of the day.
Since then, the Philadelphia and New York-based team has been building technology that can better integrate with its set of media partners.
So if you’re on a political news site and come across an issue, a person or a political event, click on an ElectNext embedded profile. Each profile will contain relevant biographical, campaign finance and legislative information.
ElectNext is currently working with The PBS NewsHour, Hearst, the Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.
Dannenbaum said the investors in the seed round were impressed by their ability to learn “important lessons.” The new focus on the media will also lead to new revenue opportunities. Dannenbaum envisions a subscription service for politicians and political groups who want to monitor their earned media across ElectNext’s publishing partners.
The seed round was led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures along with Liberty City Ventures, Digital News Ventures, Gabriel Investments, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Comcast Ventures and Investor’s Circle.
Top image via DEMO Conference // Stephen Brashear