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Ranking San Francisco's Political Players on a Scale of Pretty Darn Liberal to Positively Bolshevik

Everyone here is to the left of Ron Conway.


What if measuring your representatives political leanings were as straightforward as reading the temperature on your Nest? Civic tech startup Crowdpac wants to let you do just that. They’ve devised a scoring system that assigns a numeric value to someone’s presumed liberalness based on the movements of society's biggest truth teller: money. And guess what: San Francisco's pols are pretty, pretty, pretty liberal. (The method scores conservatism, too, but you’ll have to use your imagination to picture it for now.)

Here’s how Crowdpac's system works: Using public records of campaign finance data going back to about 1980, the organization tracked who gave money to whom. The more contributions a politician gets from donors who predominantly give to conservative causes and candidates, the farther to the right he or she goes; the greater the contributions from liberals, the farther left. In the graphic above, you’re not seeing the stated politics of each person or entity, but the politics of the funders who support them

Dianne Feinstein, for instance, is farther to the right than Nancy Pelosi because more of the people who give to Feinstein also give to conservatives. (Probably has something to do with Feinstein being a noted intelligence hawk.) Someone who scores a 10L—the most liberal rating—is getting donations from people who support other liberal causes only. A 10L means conservatives have nothing to do with you—you’re basically Ted Cruz's worst nightmare. 

As pols get closer together, the numeric rankings get a little bewildering. District 3 supervisor candidates Julie Christensen and Aaron Peskin—not pictured above, but searchable on Crowdpac—are only four-tenths of a point apart, for instance. Politically, the former allies–turned–rivals are relatively different flavors, but numerically they’re hardly distinguishable. Meanwhile, the city's three most recent mayors fall almost directly in line with each other, which lends credence to the conspiracy theory that they're all just working for the same guy. That's right, Steve Kawa, we're looking at you.


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