Washington Post’s ‘The Grid’
"Why not create a space with a stream of everything in one place?" is what WashingtonPost.com asked readers in its introduction to The Grid. In its defense, The Grid is a pretty snazzy election hub for the Post with options for customization, a handy schedule, and more Twitter, Instagram, and video integration than you can shake a stick at. Perhaps The Grid's best feature is its seamless design for mobile viewing. Let's be real, if you care about politics enough to obsess over WaPo's RNC Grid, then you're probably going to want it at your fingertips at all times. While this is one of our favorites, we can't help but see some similarities in the display of social elements with the newly released Rebelmouse. But hey, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?
Interactive Convention Map From Time and Foursquare
Time and Foursquare's interactive RNC map (there'll be one for the DNC next week, too) is a godsend for two types of people: those at the GOP convention in Tampa and those who desperately want to be there. Those with an advanced fear of missing out can track the movements of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Time's political team, and even presidential hopeful Mitt Romney himself. The app/map/site will also help convention-goers find all the hot parties so as not to miss a second of hob-knobbery. While some might dismiss the platform as stalkerish, the average politico will be tickled to find another way to "plug in."
Twitter’s #GOP2012 Page
This one is pretty obvious, but for those obsessed with politics, Twitter's home base for RNC tweets is the place to be. The startup-turned-social giant-turned-massive-media-corporation first unveiled this type of hashtag page for NASCAR and used them again with great success at the Olympics. Sure, if you're a real social media go-getter you could just search all the #GOP2012 tweets yourself, but Twitter is hoping that you let its crack team do it for you. It's not quite real-time, but all the irrelevant, offensive, and spammy stuff is taken out, leaving you with 100 percent wonky goodness!
Hearst Television’s ‘Election 2012’ App
This app is mighty new, launching just this morning, but may be of use for seasoned politicos tracking political content across local news markets and battleground states. Take the app's bland title as a warning that it is for the more devoted political junkies among us. With slideshows and videos from a cross-section of local Hearst television stations, the app might be a useful mobile or second screen tool to analyze the race in 25 U.S. TV markets. "Election 2012" has some of the usual bells and whistles too, like an electoral map and a countdown clock to the big election day. Added bonus: voter information like registration deadlines and candidate positions on major issues. It's not for everyone, but for those with a discerning eye for local TV markets, it could prove to be a useful tool.
CNN/Facebook’s Election Insights
Politics nerds (us included!) love charts and stats. This election cycle, CNN partnered with Facebook to harness the social network's enormous funnel of data to see exactly what "the people" are talking about at a given time. Political conversation data is processed, sorted, and presented every-which way. Users can focus based on gender, geography, demographics and candidate. The data is in real time so die-hard politicos can obsess over campaign minutiae and see how public perception of the candidates changes (Barack Obama's Reddit AMA yesterday injected the president into the conversation in a big way). Plus, you'll be able to see just how few people on Facebook are talking about vice president Joe Biden. Seriously, nobody on Facebook is talking about this guy!
Tumblr’s Election Blog and Spotlight
In an effort to distinguish itself this cycle, Tumblr has put a focus on election coverage, sending a team of avid freelance tumblr-ers down to Tampa and Charlotte to snap pictures, nab interviews, and cover the conventions from an alternative perspective. While you certainly won't be getting exit-poll style election data from Tumblr's page, the folks on the ground for Tumblr have done an excellent job capturing some of the protests and parties in Tampa through pictures. Oh, and GIFs. Did we mention there'll be plenty of shiny, seizure-inducing GIFs? The site also created a "Spotlight" dashboard for users to follow some of the best election-centric tumblrs. Check that out here.
Sunlight Foundation’s AdHawk
AdHawk is simple and ingenious little app for the concerned citizen who wants to know exactly who is paying for their influence. Released just last week, AdHawk is billed as "Shazam for political ads on television." Next time you see an ominous political ad (you're sure to be inundated soon, if not already) don't just complain. Instead, whip out your smartphone, fire up AdHawk and scan Sunlight Foundation's database of super PAC ads to see who/what is responsible for the message being piped into your home. Sure, you won't be able to do anything knowing that the Koch brothers financed those attack ads, but sometimes just knowing is half the battle.
YouTube’s Politics Channel
If there's one thing there is no shortage of this political cycle, it is digital video. With everyone dipping their toes in the livestream pool for election coverage there is a lot to choose from and YouTube is aiming to present it to you all at once. Featuring content from the New York Times, BuzzFeed, Ora.tv, ABC, Al Jazeera, and more, there will literally never be a moment in your day that's without political punditry. Upside: YouTube does an excellent job displaying content for users, showing what is most relevant and the streams are surprisingly free of glitches and dreaded "buffering." Downside: Watching politicos conduct endless Google Hangouts for eight hours a day is enough to make even the wonkiest among us snap. Please! No more Google Hangouts!
Reuters’ Election Site
Perhaps the most innovative and richly designed of all the political platforms is Reuters' new elections website. The site, which is a test-run of sorts before Reuters relaunches its website next year, does an excellent job helping users visualize important information like the social media battles between the two campaigns, voting history (complete with electoral college maps), a comprehensive live blog from the conventions curated by Anthony De Rosa and, our favorite element, a graphical interface to track candidate ad spending as it relates to movement in the polls. The site is informative but also, most importantly, fun to use. According to De Rosa, the site is an attempt to lock viewers into a particular story narrative and keep them on the page. "We want people to be able to feel like they're able to follow a story from their entry point and continue to follow the updates as they happen, and not want to leave," he said.