The short answer is: not very often.
At Goods Unite Us, one of our missions is to get corporate money out of politics. And to that end, we’ve created on our website and app what we call our Campaign Finance Reform Score for brands and companies. If you want to read more about how that score is calculated, please go here. It’s on a scale of -100 to +100, the higher the score, the more likely your purchase is helping to support campaign finance reform (and vice versa).
One of the common complaints we get from users is that our scoring is biased against Republicans. If you glance at our scores, you’ll notice that brands and companies that donate in a higher percentage to Republicans generally have lower scores (and often their scores are negative). The reason this happens is because our scoring takes points away BOTH when a company or brand supports Republicans more than Democrats AND based on how much money is donated to both parties combined.
The only way to get a perfect score of 100 is to not donate at all. But, for example, if Company A and its senior employees donate $1 million to just Democrats and Company B and its senior employees donate $1 million to just Republicans, Company B will have a lower score. Hence, some users have said that our scoring is partisan.
Well, in response, we did some research. And it turns out approximately 89% of Republicans voted against the last major campaign reform bills, while approximately 92% of Democrats supported them.
Let’s start with the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act), which was introduced in 2010. Here was the voting breakdown:
House: Total Yes = 219 (217 Democrat — 2 Republican)
Total No = 206 (36 Democrat — 170 Republican)
Senate: Total Yes = 59 (59 Democrat — 0 Republican)
Total No = 39 (39 Republican — 0 Democrat)
Similarly, all the way back in 2002, there was the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. And here was the breakdown of the voting on that bill:
House: Total Yes = 240 (198 Democrat — 41 Republican — 1 Independent)
Total No = 189 (12 Democrat — 176 Republican — 1 Independent)
Senate: Total Yes = 60 (48 Democrat -11 Republican — 1 Independent)
Total No = 40 (39 Republican — 0 Democrat)
In total between these last two major campaign finance reform bills, there were 522 Democrat “yes” votes, and 48 “no” votes. Meaning 92% of Democrats voted in favor of the campaign finance reform bills. On the Republican side, 89% voted against the bills.
Now there is HR 1, the first bill the new Democrat House plans to introduce. We’ll be curious to see how the voting stacks up for that bill this January.
Of course, our plan is to eventually tweak our scoring based on each particular candidate’s views on the issue. So, for example, if Apple donates money to a Democrat that does not support campaign finance reform, Apple will lose points. But delving into that kind of detail takes time (and money), two things that we, as a small startup, don’t have a lot of at the moment.
However, based on our research, using political party as a proxy for the time being seems pretty reasonable to us. Hopefully it does to you too.