December 27, 2012
According to GeoPollster, Dunkin’ Donuts has contributed over $280,000 to Democrats, around 60 percent of its campaign contributions. In contrast, Burger King contributed over $800,000 to Republicans, over half of its campaign contributions.
GeoPollster gets its data from OpenSecrets, then shows it to users when they check in on Foursquare at a restaurant or a store. You get “partisan points” for the places you check in to, so you can see whether your dollars are flowing to Republican-supporting businesses or Democrat ones. If you decide to grab a burger at an enemy establishment anyway, you can offset your purchase by making a donation – this is what cofounder and CEO Adam Kraft calls the “shame factor.”
“Citizens are concerned and outraged by corporate influence in politics. They want to know if the companies they engage with reflect their personal values. They want to effect change through their consumer choices,” says Kraft. For example, one user cancelled their membership at LA Fitness after discovering that the company donates to Republicans.
Kraft was inspired by the controversial Citizens United ruling, which reaffirmed the right of corporations and unions to engage in political speech like advertisements around an election. “It made many Americans (myself included) feel powerless against billion-dollar corporations. I realized we needed a tool to help us fight back,” he says.
In the process, GeoPollster is amassing a heap of interesting political data. For example, based on activity by around 5,000 users, iPhone and Android users are predominantly Democrat, while Blackberry users are split. It also tracks where supporters of each party like to check in:
Top 5 Democratic check-ins: Coffee shops, offices, grocery stores, gas stations/garages, other great outdoors.
Top 5 Republican check-ins: Offices, other great outdoors, gas stations/garages, grocery stores, and roads.
If GeoPollster were in the mood for activism, and garnered enough users, they could eventually use their data to pressure businesses to change their campaign contributions. For example, if most McDonald’s customers were Democrat, they might convince the company to stop contributing so much to Republicans.
If anything, it’s eye-opening to discover that many, many companies contribute roughly equal amounts to both parties.
GeoPollster was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Chicago mixer.
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