Departmental News

Huntsman Students and Graduates Create One-Stop Shopping for Political Junkies

By Steve Eaton

The world of presidential politics can be very unpredictable, with hourly changes dropping or boosting a candidate’s fortunes.

And yet a handful of students and alumni from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business have come up with something they believe will make the short-term future a little more predictable. They have launched a new non-partisan website called politicit.com that automatically pulls data from a number of traditional press outlets and social media sources like Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia and gives readers a snapshot of what’s happening in the minute-by-minute online world. It analyzes a number of factors including online activity, traditional polls, and other breaking news to calculate an "It Score." The "It Scores" can predict poll numbers in advance, creating real-time polling daily, according to the company. Those scores are displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the home page next to each candidate's picture.

(From left to right) Britney Johnson, Josh Light, Lauren Johnson, Shai McDonald, John Johnson and Sterling Morris developers of Politicit.com.

Photo by Steve Eaton

The entrepreneurs running the site see it as a groundbreaking idea, and apparently, they aren’t the only ones who see potential for the website. They submitted their idea to an online business-pitch competition called Intel Innovators, and it ended up being selected as one of the 20 finalists in the running for prizes that could total as much as $100,000. The top five ideas from the semi-final round will be selected to compete in a final round where each team is given the opportunity to pitch in front of top investors and entrepreneurs. The winner will be selected by online votes. Instructions for those interested in giving the team a boost can be found here. The deadline for voting is Dec. 19, and interested people can vote daily.

Josh Light is the CEO of the new company.

“Traditional polls reflect what people felt weeks ago,” Light said. “Politicit uses sophisticated software to provide real-time political polling.”

The site, which can be viewed here, is sort of one-stop shopping for the political junkie. It includes breaking media stories from mainstream news sites, blog postings from key websites on both sides of the political spectrum, and a collection of campaign-related videos making the news.

“The ‘IT’ score is real-time political polling,” Light said. “We are now preparing to expand this service to a state and local level, starting in Utah.”

Huntsman students Sterling Morris, a graduate management information systems (MIS) student, Lauren Johnson, an MIS major, and Shai Mcdonald, a MIS major, are founders of the company along with Josh Light and Britney Johnson. Light graduated in 2010 with degrees in economics, finance, and entrepreneurship, and Britney Johnson graduated in 2010 with a degree in MIS. John Johnson, head of the MIS Department, is an investor and key supporter of the new company. A video explaining the philosophy behind the website, that features the founders, can be viewed here.

Josh Light and Sterling Morris were interviewed on Utah Public Radio's "Access Utah." To hear that interview click here.