Ryan Mark and Brian Boyer are graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Acknowledgements and licensing
Alexander Reed and Julia Dilday, graduate students at Medill, watched the races and updated enviroVOTE as the news came in.
A great deal of the data found here was lovingly yanked through the tubes via the Project VoteSmart API. Thanks, VoteSmart! We couldn't have done it without ya. Previous House and Senate elections data was scraped from the Wikipedia. Woo, wiki!
The icons on this site were created by Mark James, and can be found at FAMFAMFAM. Thanks, Mark!
It represents the potential environmental impact of the 2008 elections. To create the meter, we compare endorsements or candidates made by environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Republicans for Environmental Protection.
The candidate in a race with the most endorsements is considered friendliest to the enviroment. When the race is decided, if the environmentally friendly candidate won the race, then the meter registers a win for the environment.
Below the bar, the meter shows a figure representing the percent change in environmentally-friendly candidates since the last elections. This is a touch more complicated.
To calculate this number, we compare the current race with the last time the seat was up for election. For example, in a race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, we look back to the election two years ago.
If two years ago the friendly candidate lost, and this year...
...the friendly candidate won, then the win counts towards environmintiness.
...the friendly candidate lost again, then the race is neutral.
On the other hand, if two years ago the friendly candidate won, and this year...
...the friendly candidate won again, then the race is neutral.
...the friendly candidate lost, then the loss counts against environmintiness.
We give each environmentally-friendly win one point, and add up the points for the current and previous races. We then subtract the previous points from the current points and divide by the number of races that we're comparing. This figure, multiplied by 100, represents the environmintiness of the elections.
The trouble with governors
Our primary source of endorsement data, Project VoteSmart, is super awesome, but they don't have data for endorsements in current or historical governor races. So, we were left to our own devices to discover out if gubernatorial candidates were endorsed by any environmental groups. This was relatively easy for current candidates, but ended up being quite tricky for previous races.
So, we don't have any endorsements for past governor races, which means that if an environmentally-friendly candidate won this year, our algorithm will score a win for the environment. If an endorsed candidate won last time around, a race that should register as a neutral ends up looking environminty. This may skew our numbers *ever so slightly* to optimistically environminty, on the order of a fraction of a percent.
It's probably not very big deal, but we thought we should let you know.