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Daily Kos's 2012 fundraising totals
Whenever Daily Kos considers a candidate endorsement for our fundraising efforts, we ask the campaign to fill out our short questionnaire. It's not intended to be a comprehensive dossier—if we insisted on asking 50 questions, we wouldn't get many responses. Rather, our aim is to focus on a handful of issues of key importance to the Daily Kos community, to help give us a feel for the people we're thinking about endorsing.

Consequently, there are plenty of important issues that don't appear on our questionnaire. That doesn't mean they aren't important to us. To be absolutely clear: We evaluate all candidates holistically and make choices based on all the public information available to us, not just our questionnaire. For instance, if a given candidate answered our questions with flying colors but has a bad record on, say, environmental issues or reproductive freedom, that is something we would most definitely take into consideration. Fortunately, groups devoted to matters like these regularly interrogate candidates, so there's no shortage of information on this front, and that also allows us to avoid duplicating our allies' efforts.

Indeed, for the most part, our questionnaire focuses on questions other groups aren't asking—or at least, aren't asking publicly. It can be difficult, for instance, to find out a first-time candidate's views on the Employee Free Choice Act, but it's a vital piece of legislation. Similarly, we aren't aware of any other organizations that ask about the Blue Dog Coalition or the filibuster, so we feel it's particularly crucial that we highlight the importance of these issues. And we try to make our questions as specific as possible, often by tying them to specific pieces of legislation, in order to minimize the possibility of vague or unsatisfying answers.

We also change our questions slightly from cycle to cycle, as events warrant. For instance, last cycle, we included a question about allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. Thanks to the fiscal cliff deal, that question was mostly resolved in progressives' favor, so we consider that a success and have removed the question. We aren't making many other changes: We've decided to focus on Medicare buy-in in our health care question (rather than the public option), and we're also now asking about same-sex marriage, to send a statement about our values. If we make further alterations, we will of course let the community (and prospective candidates) know.

More broadly, we feel it's not likely that someone who answers our questionnaire well would give us cause for serious concern on other issues. For example, a candidate who supports Employee Free Choice and opposes cuts to Social Security is unlikely to be a stealth conservative. Similarly, it's hard to imagine someone supporting same-sex marriage but opposing, say, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

But we take nothing for granted, and, just in case, we always do thorough research on everyone we endorse, beyond what's in the questionnaire. That's because if we're asking you to donate and support someone, we want to be as sure as we possibly can that they are worthy of your time and money.

One question we're often asked is whether this is a litmus test—are there any required answers? We always say no, but at the same time, it's quite clear which answers we prefer. And on some topics, we have more leeway in accepting imperfect answers. On other issues, though, it's hard if not impossible to envision supporting someone who isn't with us. (If there are any Democrats out there who still don't support marriage equality, you probably shouldn't waste your time talking to us.)

By the same token, answering every question "right" is no guarantee of support. Again, we take a very comprehensive look at every candidate we consider and we evaluate many things beyond just ideology. We look at candidate quality (have they ever run for office before? are they good at connecting with voters? are they successful at raising money?) and many other background factors, like how red or blue the district or state they're running in is, how strong their opponents are, and much, much more.

We're also often asked whether our questionnaire should be filled out with yes/no answers, with commentary, or with both. We strongly prefer clear yes or no responses, but those are not required. The "comments" section for each question can be used in addition to or instead of yes/no answers.

Campaigns also frequently ask us what getting our endorsements means. Principally, it means we raise money for those candidates, both via the Daily Kos site and through our email outreach program. As you can see from our 2012 statistics, we raised quite a lot: over $3.4 million for 65 different candidates and causes. (We also endorse efforts like pro-marriage equality campaigns.) In addition, our endorsement helps raise a candidate's profile and offers a way for candidates to get their message out while bypassing traditional channels.

One final note: When we do endorse candidates, we publish all of their answers to all of these questions (or we ask the campaigns to do so themselves, in diary form). It's part of our commitment to transparency: When we ask community members here at Daily Kos to part with their hard-earned dollars, we want folks to know what they're getting in return—it's only fair. In any event, we're very excited to once again start adding candidates to our list, which we expect to do soon. If there are any Democrats out there you particularly like and think would make worthy additions, please let us know in comments!

Without further ado, our questionnaire is below:

1. Do you support the Medicare You Can Buy Into Act (H.R. 4789, 111th Congress), which would allow all citizens or permanent residents to buy into Medicare?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

2. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:

a)    Contain a meaningful path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States that does not include overly punitive fines or a touchback requirement;

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

b)    Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

c)    Maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued for any non-agricultural temporary worker programs, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

3a. Do you support the Strengthening Social Security Act (H.R. 3118 / S. 567, 113th Congress), which would increase Social Security benefits and strengthen the program's finances?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

3b. Do you oppose each of the following changes to Social Security and Medicare:

a)    Raising the retirement age;

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

b)    Eliminating or reducing the cost of living adjustment, including implementing so-called "chained CPI";

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

c)    Directly reducing benefits;

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

d)    Means-testing recipients; and

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

e)    Privatization, so-called "personal accounts," and vouchers?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

4. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409 / S. 560, 111th Congress), including the provision known as "card check"?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

5. Do you believe that all adults should be allowed to legally marry another adult of their choosing, regardless of that person's sex?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

6. If elected, do you pledge not to join the Blue Dog Coalition or Third Way?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

7. If elected to the Senate, do you pledge to restore majority rule to the Senate and both work and vote to end the filibuster?

YES    NO    COMMENTS:

Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 12:22 PM PT: Question 6 updated to include Third Way.

Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 1:31 PM PT: Question 3 updated to include Strengthening Social Security Act.

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