Now more than ever, social media has become an integral part of the political campaign, and the race has moved to the web. And according to a Pew Survey from 2011, almost half of all Americans make political decisions in part because of information and news shared with them online. As a result, candidates want to earn more Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and YouTube views than their opponents. Whistlestop, a new political technology startup launching today, wants to help democratize social media data on political candidates to allow voters to track and support these politicians.
Basically, Whistlestop aggregates data from multiple social media sources, including Twitter and
Facebook, and uses this data to create a site where candidates face off and success is measured, in real time, by candidates’ digital support.
It scores each candidate by their social media interactions weekly based on new followers, likes and more data. On a candidate’s homepage on the site, you can see how many Twitter followers a candidate has, Facebook likes, money raises, latest updates, and more. You can also access candidates social media pages from the site, as well as donate to each candidate.
For the power users, Whistlestop allows you to follow candidates on the site, and rewards users for activism on the site (i.e. sharing, donating) with custom badges. For now, Whistlestop is only featuring candidates from the presidential, congressional and senate elections but eventually will expand to state and local politics as well. The site will also add data from other social media platforms, including YouTube.
Alexander Benard, Whistlestop co-founder and CEO, explains that the site’s goal is to make digital
politics more transparent, as social media plays a significant part of the horserace in the current political climate.
Whistlestop, which raised $400,000 in seed funding from angel investors, counts politicos from
both parties among its backers. Its advisory board includes Mike Moschella, political director
for the Truman National Security Project, and Brian Haley, former national finance director for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential campaign.