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Introducing PolitiFact's Haslam-O-Meter

By Steve Ahillen
Published on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 at 4:00 a.m.

With the economy tanking and unemployment in double digits, Bill Haslam built his 2010 gubernatorial campaign around jobs.

He called it "Jobs4TN" and repeated his promise to "make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs" more times than the Pride of the Southland Band plays "Rocky Top" at a Tennessee football game. He got elected in a landslide.

And while the promise was certainly the governor’s biggest, it was far from the only one he made to Tennesseans. By our count, he made 23 on everything from raising taxes (he won't) to state funding for Planned Parenthood (he promised to end it).

With a year since his inauguration, it’s time to check how far he has gotten toward achieving those goals.

Today we unveil the Haslam-O-Meter, a new feature to help you track how the governor is doing.

It is modeled after the Obameter on the national PolitiFact site, which follows President Barack Obama made in the 2008 campaign.

Other state sites in the PolitiFact network are doing their own promise meter features for their governors and mayors; and PolitiFact National has the GOP Pledge-O-Meter, which tracks the promises made by Republican leaders in Congress.

What makes a promise?

It had to be made before Election Day and it had to be a pledge of future action that is measurable. So, things like changing the tone in Nashville or making the state a better place to live don’t qualify.

But specific pledges like his promise to pass "meaningful tort reform" to help doctors made the list. (We've even rated that one Promise Kept.)

How did we find them?

We tracked Haslam’s promises during his campaign stops and followed him on his "Bill Haslam for Governor" website. His campaign also produced a brochure titled, "Bill Haslam: The Right Experience" that lists more than 30 goals.

If you think we missed one on the list of 23 we put together from these sources, feel free to email us at PolitiFact.tenn@gmail.com.

How will it work?

As with the Obameter, all promises begin with a status of Not Yet Rated. We’ll research each one, and measure its progress and determine whether it is In the Works, Stalled, Promise Broken, Compromise or Promise Kept.

Unlike the Truth-O-Meter, which measures a statement or a position at a particular point in time, the scoring for promises will change as political circumstances do. A single promise can move from In the Works to Stalled to Compromise or from Compromise to Promise Broken, and so on.

It is important to note that in evaluating the status of a promise we are not placing a value judgment on whether what happens is good or bad. Nor are we declaring the results failures or victories for Haslam or for state voters. We’re simply showing whether Haslam fulfilled his promises.

There is clearly value in helping voters understand how an elected official is doing at meeting the promises made during the campaign. What happens with these promises over the next three years will help set the framework for the 2014 election.

We recently asked the governor how he thought he was doing on meeting those many promises made.

"I‘ve worked on exactly those things we said we would work on," Haslam said. "We’ve focused on them.

"I wouldn’t say (that we’ve met) all of them. Some of those are things that play out over time … But I think a lot of things we’ve done are the things that we said, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’"

We’ll be keeping track with the Haslam-O-Meter.


 

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About this article:

Sources:

See individual Haslam-O-Meter items.

Researchers: Steve Ahillen, Tom Humphrey

Names in this article: Bill Haslam

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