Professors and students began working Friday on an open database that tracks Republican legislators’ support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump around the country and gives extensive details on each official.
Associate government professor Bethany Albertson began collecting the data last Friday after seeing how unclear some GOP legislators appeared to her on their stance regarding Trump.
“I got really frustrated by searching online — looking at their Facebook pages, looking at their Twitter feed — and it seems as though some people are running for office pretending the presidential election isn’t happening,” Albertson said. “What I hope to do is be able to find out those who have been dodging the issue and use this to press them to tell us where they stand.”
Albertson solicited the help of UT students and others around the country through Twitter. The database is largely crowdsourced, so a wide range of citizens can fill in information on their local congressmen, Albertson said.
The database is expected to include all U.S. congressmen and their support for Trump — or lack thereof — as well as evidence to show where they stand.
“One of the things that’s interesting to me is their electoral vulnerability and how they’re engaging with Trump,” Albertson said. “I think they ought to have to take a stand on whether or not they support the candidate.”
Jay Jennings, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life who set up the database, said it is important to focus on these legislators’ stances, especially during this election.
“This year, the election is kind of unusual,” Jennings said. “For many voters, support or approval of Trump can determine whether they are going to vote for their member of Congress or not.”
So far, 60 percent of the country’s Republican congressmen have been analyzed to find their views on Trump, Jennings said. Out of those analyzed, 66 percent support Trump, 29 percent do not, and 5 percent are unclear on their stance.
The data is available to anyone to view and edit so people can be more informed about who is representing them, Jennings said.
Graduate physics student Jonathan Roeltgen said the database is a useful way to find out more about the values of his local representatives.
“Since the representatives don’t have as much visibility, I feel like this could help give an idea of what they’re thinking, especially in the presidential election year,” Roeltgen said.
The spreadsheet can be found on Albertson’s Twitter, @AlbertsonB2. A separated list of Texas legislators and their stances can be found on the second tab of the document.