Reading & Video: Promise trackers
Promise Trackers or Campaign Pledge Evaluation Tools (CPET) are online platforms that put you in charge of auditing the degree to which a governing politician or party has or hasn't fulfilled promises given during an election campaign. Some of the examples are Trump-O-Meter (USA), Trudeau-Meter (Canada), Lui President (France).
Promise Trackers can help reduce the mistrust between governments and citizens, through accurate and non-partisan analysis of the government’s performance in the mandate for which it was elected . Such tools can provide significant positive value to democracy as an educational tool by engaging and informing citizens. Promise Trackers work the best if they partner with traditional media, in this way Promise Trackers achieve greater reach, also among less tech-savvy users. Disseminating information about fulfilment of promises can affect both voters’ beliefs about politicians and voters’ policy preferences, leading voters to change their opinions and preferences, thus resulting in changes on the next elections .
One of the most famous examples of Promise Trackers is Trump-O-Meter – built by PolitiFact, a non-profit fact-checking project operated by the Poynter Institute in the USA. It tracked 100 promises made by President Trump during his 2016 campaign. As described on the project’s website:
“For each campaign promise, our reporters research the issue and then rate it based on whether the promise was achieved: Promise Kept, Promise Broken, Compromise, Stalled, In the Works or Not Yet Rated. We rate the promise not on the president's intentions or effort, but on verifiable outcomes.”
Let's take an example: Remember one of Trump’s most famous promises from the 2015/16 campaign – the famous wall on the southern border?
Like most Promise Trackers, Trump-O-Meter relies on a strong visual message that allows users to easily grasp information. However, analysis of each promise is backed up by facts and investigative work. To conclude that Great Wall is a Broken Promise, the team at Politifact analysed all aspects of this promise thoroughly – the analysis is available both as a text and short video.
Sounds like a great tool, though it does come with a warning! When those who govern are aware of citizens auditing their promises, they might pursue policies they promised even when this is not in people’s best interests or if the process was not inclusive and open.
 Urban, A. & Feldman, A. (2018).The future of promise tracking. https://fullfact.org/media/uploads/the_future_of_promise_tracking_jordan_urban_adam_feldman_fullfact.pdf
 Cruz, C., Keefer, P., Labonne, J., & Trebbi, F. (2018). Making policies matter: Voter responses to campaign promises (No. w24785). National Bureau of Economic Research.