Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Introducing the Bob-O-Meter

Gov. Bob McDonnell, shown here at his Janaury 2010 inauguration, made 48 campaign promises that we've been tracking.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, shown here at his Janaury 2010 inauguration, made 48 campaign promises that we've been tracking.

Like most politicians, Bob McDonnell made dozens of promises during his campaign for governor.

PolitiFact Virginia today begins an analysis of how Gov. McDonnell has done in fulfilling the major pledges made to the voters of Virginia in 2009.

We’re introducing the Bob-O-Meter, a service aimed at monitoring some 50 campaign promises by McDonnell. The Bob-O-Meter will report what progress, if any, has been made on each pledge and rate whether it’s been kept, broken, altered in a compromise, or in the works. Those ratings will be tallied on PolitiFactVirginia.com, creating an up-to-the- minute and evolving report card on McDonnell’s administration.

"We’re excited about this addition to the paper and to PolitiFactVirginia.com," Times-Dispatch Editor Daniel Finnegan said. "It fits in with our goal to increase our watchdog efforts, and it is something I think future governors can expect to deal with."

The Bob-O-Meter is modeled after the Obameter, which was created bythe national PolitiFact staff after the 2008 presidential election. It’s monitoring 508 campaign promises the president made. The national staff also started the GOP Pledge-O-Meter to track pledges made by Republican congressmen and their leaders during the 2010 elections.

And our PolitiFact colleagues in seven states earlier this year activated meters to track promises made by their governors.

How did we find the promises?

We analyzed more than a dozen policy papers on McDonnell’s campaign web site. We also sifted through the governor’s press releases and campaign speeches, in addition to news stories.

Which promises will we check?

We’re focusing on statements by McDonnell’s campaign -- before closing of polls on Nov. 3, 2009 -- that pledged verifiable action. We’re not bothering with things like promising to elevate the tone in Richmond or improve the climate for small business. But we will be looking into things like promising to raise the percentage of education money that goes into classrooms or to increase tax credits for the purchase of long-term health insurance.

How does the Bob-O-Meter work?

Over time, we’ll score each promise with one of six categories:
Promise Kept
Promise Broken
Compromise
Stalled
In the Works
Not Yet Rated

Unlike the Truth-O-Meter and Flip-O-Meter, which measure a statement or position at specific point in time, the ratings on promises can change with circumstances. For example, something initially rated Stalled could later become a Promise Kept or a Promise Broken.

You can find the list of promises we’ll be checking on the right-hand side of our home page. picking the promises tab on the red menu at the top our site, or but just clicking here.

If you think we’ve missed something, let us know at PolitiFact@TimesDispatch.com