Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Politiwidgets lets you embed data on U.S. officeholders

by Matt Rosenberg October 3rd, 2011

Whether you write online about public affairs or are just doing some due diligence on an officeholder, Politiwidgets is a government transparency toolset worth exploring. Developed by technologists at the non-profit Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., Politiwidgets let you embed easy-to-read graphics of performance and contextual data on members of the U.S. Congress and Senate into online articles, blog posts or social media entries. The data are all drawn from first-rate cited sources, to which links are provided.

Widgets can be customized to different sizes/Poliwidgets

At Politiwidgets, each member of Congress or the Senate has their own page with a range of data in several categories. Here are the Politiwidgets main pages of all Washington state U.S. Representatives and Senators. The first feature is their “business card” which includes contact information, plus a link to their Web site and social media accounts. Getting into the data, you can see how many bills a legislator has sponsored versus how many of those have been enacted, and how those figures compare to the average for legislators in their chamber. You can also review and compare the records of legislators on how many earmarks – appropriations which are directed to specific recipients – they have have won approval of, again versus the average for legislators in their chamber.

Other legislator data at Politiwidgets includes voting records, campaign contributions, top contributors, interest group ratings, top U.S. government contractors in their district, and district map.

I’ll demo Poliwidgets by showing the most recent full-year earmarks data for each member of the Washington state delegation. U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera (R-3) isn’t included because she was just elected last November, and there’s no data reported for her yet in that category at Politiwidgets. I’ve used the earmarks widget for U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-9) (above) to show a different size option than those below and to illustrate that with a bit of elementary code you can embed the widgets neatly in text, and add a caption.

The Sunlight Foundation invites active bloggers on public policy and politics who’ve used Politiwidgets to share their feedback in an online survey.

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