Wikipedia:Candidates and elections
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Wikipedia is neither a news service nor an almanac. Many Wikipedia editors believe elections themselves are worthy of inclusion, as evidenced by the dozens of articles about elections in the project. If elections are worthy of inclusion, it logically follows that information on the candidates in those elections should be included.
That does not mean, however, that all candidates for office should automatically receive their own articles in Wikipedia. Articles on candidates for office, like all Wikipedia articles, must meet standards of quality and verifiability.
In the past, election seasons have resulted in floods of articles on candidates for office. Some of them have contained little more than brief biographies of the candidates, sometimes taken directly from campaign websites. Articles for Deletion has been clogged with such articles.
This page is an attempt to bring some order to the situation.
Elections first, then individual candidates
As a compromise between those who would keep all candidate articles and those who would delete all articles on yet-unelected candidates, it would be preferable if articles on elections were written before articles on individual candidates. Only if and when there is enough independent, verifiable information to write a non-stub article on a candidate should one be written.
This is not a reason to delete candidate articles if the only problem is that the election article has yet to be written. Merger of the candidate articles into the election article may well improve Wikipedia.
Types and names of articles
Articles on elections fall into two categories: elections in which candidates are as important as parties (such as nonpartisan races and all American elections) and elections in which parties are more important than candidates (such as parliamentary elections in the UK and Canada).
For the first type of election, each individual race should receive its own article. They should be named as follows:
- U.S. Senate election: U.S. Senate election, Michigan, 2006
- U.S. House election: U.S. House of Representatives election, New York 20th district, 2006
- State-legislative election: Arizona state Senate election, 14th district, 2006
For Westminster System elections and other elections in which parties are more important, basic information on candidates should be included in articles listing a party's candidates for the election. For example:
Information to be included
For many candidates, a good deal of independent, verifiable information should be available. It can include:
- Current and previous jobs and work experience
- Views on issues (briefly; major, notable issues only)
- Endorsements from notable groups
- Campaign strategies
- Amount of funds raised and funds on hand
- Major, notable donors, or summary information about where campaign funding has come from
- News events from the campaign
- Opinion-poll results
- Personal information: birth-year, college education, military service, what spouse does
Try to stay away from too much detail on the candidate's life outside of politics unless it is relevant to the election or otherwise noteworthy. That a candidate was named Funeral Home Owner of the Year and was president of the local PTA might make for good campaign-brochure text but is unlikely to be of interest to readers of the encyclopedia. If this kind of information is all that's available on a candidate, you can include it in an article on the race or party, but you shouldn't create an article on the candidate himself or herself.
Sources for information on candidates and elections can include local newspaper stories, information from the League of Women Voters and other community organizations, politics websites and many other media. Campaign literature and websites may be used for some things; if an official campaign website says a candidate opposes abortion, you can say the candidate is against abortion. Be wary, though, that a candidate's own literature will leave significant gaps in information. It is no substitute for independent information.
If a candidate lacks a standalone article, you can make a redirect from the person's name to the article on the election or party. For example, if Joe Schmo is running for parliament on the Anti-Metric Party ticket, you can redirect from Joe Schmo to Anti-Metric Party candidates, 2006 Fredonia federal election.
Even if a candidate runs in more than one election, there might not be enough independent, verifiable information available about him or her to merit a standalone article. In that case, you can make the page at the candidate's name a disambiguation page, as follows:
Joe Bloe is an American politician who ran or is running in the following elections:
A note on time issues
One concern about articles on elections is that biographical information on candidates may change after the election. If you write, "Smith is a lawyer," the information will become incorrect if Smith changes careers. It's unrealistic to expect future editors to follow the careers of every defeated candidate for office. If you change the sentence after the election to read, "Smith was a lawyer," it may lead readers to believe Smith is no longer a lawyer, even if he still is.
The best way to avoid this situation is to avoid verbs for biographical information that might change in the future. In the above case, you could write, "Fred Smith, a lawyer", when you mention the occupation of Smith, as part of a listing of candidates. (Another example: "Jones is running against Smith, a class action lawyer." After the election, the word "is running" can be changed to "ran" without any concern as to whether Smith remains a lawyer.)