Election Tuesday came and went with the usual media storm — and as usual, we were all too happy to watch the returns come in one by one. After all, what’s more dramatic or entertaining than the fate of the country? Television reporting has always been a mainstay of election night drama, but Twitter has also become a valued source. In the end, if used correctly, Twitter was the more interesting way to follow the results.
Election Night is currently a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, but I wouldn’t recommend following the endless stream of tweets with those keywords; you’ll just get a list of random people’s thoughts. The real advantage of Twitter is that you can follow a variety of sources all at once and get links to all kinds of coverage, whether you’re sitting on your laptop at the kitchen table or trolling through the city on your mobile phone.
ABC Politics provided a good tweet stream for a mainstream news source. But following any of your favorite pundits or political commentators allows you to tailor your election experience … although adding in a few commentators you don’t usually like is a good idea, so that you can open up your point of view.
Hashtags also proved an asset on election night — although television sometimes aims to get viewers involved by reading out Website or Twitter comments, going right to the source and jumping into the microblogging conversation really allows you to get involved with the nation’s politics in a direct way. The #nytelect page was particularly successful, and Twitter even advertised the fact that the New York Times would be posting people’s tweets on its Website. Creative ideas like this make elections and politics part of a national conversation, rather than a few analysts just talking at you on a screen.
The graphics that you get on a television screen are pretty cool — but Twitter will link you to all the statistical information you could want. And although it’s definitely nice to watch human beings talk about election results in real time, there is no reason why you can’t do both …. if there was ever a night to multitask, the hyperactive nature of election Tuesday was probably it.
Twitter also inspires cool graphics, like this one that the New York Times updated leading up to Tuesday. The graphic shows dots that grow and decrease in size according to how often Senate and Governor candidates were mentioned in tweets.
The last great thing that Twitter provides you with for election coverage? Perspective. If you keep checking out your main homepage and read all the tweets that don’t have anything to do with Harry Reid, John A. Boehner, or the Tea Party, your blood pressure levels will probably thank you.