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Frequently asked questions

What is WhichCandidate?

WhichCandidate is a ‘voting advice application’ that allows voters to compare their own policy views with those of the candidates standing for election. It aims to inform voters about the policy positions of candidates and to help voters to make a more informed voting decision.

How does it work?

A set of relevant policy issues are selected by the research team in advance of the election. Election candidates are contacted to complete a questionnaire on these issues. Each participating candidate is given a public profile on the website, incorporating their answers to the questionnaire. Voters who visit the website are asked the same set of questions, and their answers are compared with the answers of the candidates. A customised results page is then presented to each user, containing a ranking of candidates ordered by how closely their answers match.

How is the ranking calculated?

First, we calculate the proximity of a user to a candidate on each question. To give an example, a question might have three answer options: Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree. Proximity can in this case be either:

  • 1 (if the user and candidate select the same answer)
  • 0.5 (if one selects the middle option and the other selects Agree or Disagree)
  • 0 (if one selects Agree and the other selects Disagree)

We then take the average proximity between the user and candidate across all the questions that the user has answered. If for example a user has a proximity score of 0.5 to a candidate across all questions, the overall match with this candidate is expressed as 50%.

Some issues are more important to me than others. Can this be taken into account?

You first select the issues that are important to you, and you are then presented with questions related to those issues. You will only be matched with candidates on those issues. In addition, if there are any specific questions that you are not interested in, you can simply select 'no opinion' and they will be excluded from calculation.

Some candidates appear to be missing

We endeavoured to contact all declared candidates. Some candidates have declined to share their policy views with us and are not featured on the website. If you would like to see more candidates from your area on the website, please urge them to contact us and complete the survey. If you are a candidate and were not contacted by us, please let us know.

Is it independent?

WhichCandidate is not associated with any political party or election candidate. It is run by researchers at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick. It is supported by funding from the Irish Research Council.

Who do I contact?

Any queries or feedback on WhichCandidate can be sent to Rory Costello at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick. rory.costello@ul.ie