Quick: Which is more liberal, McDonald's or Burger King? McDonald's, according to a free new mobile app. For shoppers who don't want their money even indirectly supporting liberal agendas, 2nd Vote, launched at the Values Voter summit in October, is there to help. The app tracks the employee policies or corporate donations of large companies and rates whether they lean liberal or conservative on a 1-10 scale. Company policies on the environment, gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, and even whether companies have accepted government bailout money all factor into a score. (For a starting reference, the pro-traditional marriage restaurant Chick-fil-A earns a high score of 8.)
A browse through the app's categories (Restaurants, Retail, Entertainment & News, etc.) is enlightening and sometimes surprising. Companies that have already received attention for their support of same-sex benefits and abortion, like Starbucks, PepsiCo, and Google, get appropriately low scores-but so do others you might have overlooked. Costco, for example, earns a 3.5 for funding Planned Parenthood and supporting LGBT causes. Ford earns a 2.3 for supporting same-sex marriage, cap-and-trade policy, and the pro-abortion National Women's Law Center. UPS earns an abysmal 2, in part for donating $100,000 to the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign. (Shipper DHL scored higher, at 5.3, earning a place as "passively liberal.")
If you discover while browsing 2nd Vote that your favorite store or brand appears to be a raving supporter of abortion, population control, and homosexuality (such as Nike), the app will conveniently suggest a list of "better options." In this example, the top suggested alternative is-perhaps surprisingly-Jockey. Lingerie-clad models aside, the company walks away with a 7.5 score, in large part for supporting adoptive families and signing the strongly pro-life former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow as an endorser in 2010.
Judging by their scores, BP, Best Buy, and Avon are all more liberal than alternatives ConocoPhillips, RadioShack, and Mary Kay, which have at least remained generally neutral on the issues. The website version of 2nd Vote has hyperlinked references for those who wish to check out company policies firsthand.
Speaking in terms of corporate donations, the 2nd Vote ratings suggest conservatives are outnumbered. Although few businesses appear openly to support traditional values like heterosexual marriage, many support liberal causes. The companies that choose to remain neutral seem conservative by comparison.
"We vote every day with our dollars," says Chris Walker, the executive director of 2nd Vote, the nonprofit maker of the app, which added nearly 45,000 downloads in its first month. Users can vote on companies they plan to support or boycott, and Walker says his organization plans to present those vote tallies to company executives. "You'd be amazed how a company who wants your money will listen to your voice."
School screeningKrieg Barrie
High-school students who use Facebook and Twitter to broadcast their lives have a practical new reason to think twice before posting a nasty comment or questionable photo: Colleges may be watching. In a new survey from Kaplan Test Prep, a growing proportion of college admissions officers-1 in 3-said they had checked an applicant's Facebook or other social media profile to learn more about the person. The same proportion said they found info online that damaged an applicant's chances of acceptance in the school. -D.J.D.