Jumping in Pools is proud to present our 102nd interview in our on-going series. Today we are lucky to have Elizabeth Letchworth answer questions about her website GradeGov.com. GradeGov, as its name suggests, grades members of our Congress from an A to an F, based on how well they are performing. I'd like to personally thank Ms. Letchworth for a good interview:
When did you start GradeGov.com and why?
GradeGov.com was born out of seeing Members of Congress (MOC) struggle to stay connected with their constituents on a daily basis. I was the first and only women elected by the entire U.S. Senate as the Secretary for the Majority, when the Republicans were in control. My 26 years of Senate service, all of which occurred on the Senate floor, afforded me close relationships with MOC. Their complaints grew year after year as to not being able to connect with the "folks back home." Time is a valuable commodity in our Nation's Capitol and one that robs good people's intentions daily. After I retired as the U.S. Senate Secretary for the Majority, I began to try to conceive of a way where constituents and MOC could connect without interference from staff, media or any other filters. Hence GradeGov was born in Jan. 2009 and formally launched on the web in April, 2009.
Do you consider yourself conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between?
I am a proud Christian conservative. However, GradeGov is set up to be nothing more than a data base of comments and information. It can't be manipulated or altered in any way. I designed it that way to avoid criticism that my political viewpoints would slant the site. The site operates and drives itself............I write a twice weekly newsmaker column on the homepage describing the Senate and House floor schedules for folks who want a quick snap shot of what Congress is up to for the week. It has a conservative slant, but the site itself is just a mathematical database.....and I simply pay the bills!
Republicans seem to average better grades than their Democrat colleagues. What do you attribute this to?
Again, the site is nothing more than a mathematical averaging data base of public comments and grades of MOC. The fact that the GOP tend to do better is due to the fact that the GOP typically don't agree with the Democratic members of Congress and their views. Also, the very liberal Democrats don't think the Majority of Democrats in Congress are liberal enough. Finally, Independents tend to be angry at everyone, but speak out more on the Democrats because there are more of them. These three aspects tend to put the Democrats at a lower grade than their GOP colleagues on GradeGov.com. Otherwise the membership of GradeGov.com typically breaks down at approx. 46 to 47% Dem/Indep and 52% GOP.
Do you believe that the Republican party will make significant gains in the House and Senate in the upcoming election?
As to the upcoming 2010 elections, I believe the GOP will make historical gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It will mirror 1994 only larger. The 1994 elections reflected a frustration from the American electorate at the Clinton Administration's over-reach of their aggressive legislative agenda. From the "don't ask, don't tell" new military policy to the attempt to pass "Hillary Health Care", many Americans felt threatened and overwhelmed and thus voted those folks out of office they felt were helping to push this aggressive growth of the Federal Government. If any of this sounds familiar, then it shouldn't be hard to understand why I believe the 2010 elections will be a landslide for the GOP as far as taking over control in both the House and the Senate.
Your site grades members of Congress. Have you considered grading President Obama and members of his Cabinet?
This question is the most asked question on the website and one that isn't easily answered in a few words. But let me try to explain the logic from GradeGov.com. GradeGov.com owns all 50 states and the District of Columbia as far as GradeGovinsert state name.com. I tell you that so you have an idea where I believe GradeGov.com can go in the upcoming years. However, first and foremost, the initial GradeGov.com brand needs to be legitimate and taken seriously by Congress...those folks who are currently being graded on GradeGov.com. Once that occurs, then I hope to branch out to all 50 states + D.C. to cover Governors. Assuming that step goes well and is considered a helpful tool to our state Governors, then I hope to branch out to cover the President before the 2012 elections. The President's Cabinet and CZARS may or may not be included when GradeGov branches out to allowing folks to Grade our President.
Where do you see your website by election day 2010?
The website has batted almost 1000 when it comes to predicting the major primaries to date. The only one that GradeGov.com didn't predict correctly was the primary victory by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK). GradeGov.com predicted she would lose her right to run for the Senate again this November. However, Gradegov.com predicted all of the other primary contests correctly. Having said that, I see GradeGov.com as a good barometer of sorts for the 2010 elections. The reason is simple, it represents the people's voice, unfiltered and expressed in their own words, not those of a pollster on a pollsters time table.
In your time running GradeGov, what have you learned about politics and the internet?
Politics on the Internet is a tough game. Good ideas get stolen every day and remarketed as original. I guess this is the TV/Radio/Internet world but it shocked me that it was so cutthroat. Having said that, I am extremely proud of GradeGov.com's loyal members, many of which log-on daily to write and grade MOC. They feel it is their duty to keep Congress on their toes. That is a good thing and BRAVO to the GradeGov.com membership!
Is there anything more you would like to add?
I want to thank Michael for reaching out to me and wish him and his team at jumpinginpools.blogspot.com the best of luck and continued success. Keep the faith!
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