CQ Roll Call, PBS Enter MTV Fantasyland

CQ Roll Call and PBS NewsHour are teaming up with MTV to launch Fantasy Election ’12. Part of MTV’s “Power of 12” campaign, the desktop and mobile game will give young people a new way to hold presidential and congressional candidates accountable, and reward youth for getting involved.

Here’s how it works: Similar to Fantasy Football, “Fantasy Election ‘12” enables users to draft a team of candidates pursuing the presidency or congress, earning and losing points based on how their players behave in the real world.  Candidate performance in the game will be determined by data provided by non-partisan organizations in five key areas: constituent engagement, honesty, transparency, civility, and public opinion.

Here’s where Roll Call and PBS come in. While Roll Call provides information on Congressional candidates, PBS will provide details on Presidential candidates. In addition, RealClearPolitics will track the polling data.

The upside: Players who excel in “Fantasy Election ’12” can win prizes ranging from tickets to MTV’s Video Music Awards to free downloads.  The game, which will officially launch closer to the Republic National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, is being developed by HYFN, a digital agency who has created social experiences for Nike, Coke, Disney, Universal and more.  The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is the principal funder of the game, providing a $250,000 grant.

The downside: Potentially overly time consuming. At least for reporters, this is a potential downside as it could cut down on the drama: MTV will reward candidates for focusing on issues instead of personal attacks.

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In the details…

  • Constituent Engagement: Candidates will gain points for town halls, tele-town halls, press availabilities, and other key ways they make themselves available to answer the questions of American voters.  PBS NewsHour will provide information on Presidential candidates and CQ Roll Call will supply details on congressional candidates.   MTV will also award points to candidates for engaging constituents via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Honesty: As candidates make statements on the campaign trail, players will gain/lose points based on their team’s truthfulness.  This will be gauged by the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization PolitiFact.
  • Transparency: MTV will give bonus points to candidates who openly disclose campaign funding sources as monitored by the Center for Responsive Politics OpenSecrets.org, and dock points from candidates who aren’t transparent about that information.  MTV will also reward candidates who complete Project Vote Smart’s acclaimed “Political Courage Test,” making their positions known on the issues of greatest importance to American voters.
  • Civility: MTV will reward candidates for focusing on issues instead of personal attacks in campaign advertising. MTV will deduct points from candidates who air an excessive amount of uncivil, personal ads. Scores will be based on the Wesleyan Media Project’s definitive advertising database which provides real-time, publicly available information on the content and targeting of all broadcast television advertisements aired by or on behalf of all federal election candidates in each of the nation’s 210 media markets.
  • Public Opinion: Candidates who do a good job of connecting with voters and see their polling numbers rise will earn points in the game, while politicians who see their polling numbers drop will be docked points.  This will be tracked via data from RealClearPolitics, the definitive polling data aggregator.