The digital election. The Twitter election. First we speculated, then we declared it to be true. Whatever the outcome this evening (or perhaps even days down the road), there is no doubt that emergent technologies have—for better or worse—shaped our political climate in 2012.
The last two years of this grueling presidential campaign have revealed an insatiable desire for online news and an overproductive press corps willing to feed the beast. Today, this swell of information will crest as the nation gathers around its TVs with its smartphones, tablets and laptops within arms reach. If the presidential Election Day is the one of the biggest news days every four years, today is the final push to make the best use of digital tools. Adweek has been circling around the Internet today, and here are just a few of the most impressive ones we've seen.
The Guardian's 2012 Campaign "Scroll-able" Graphic Novel
If you are looking for an example of digital storytelling's future potential, this new feature from The Guardian demonstrates the power of interactive Web design to break convention and provide readers with a fresh look at an overcovered event. This beautiful graphic novel unfolds down your page as you scroll, detailing in vibrant illustrations and animations the story of 2012's topsy-turvy race.
The New York Times' 512 Paths to the White House
Though so much of all the poll talk has focused on NYT stat-guru Nate Silver's data aggregations and math-driven projections, this new feature from the Times is a sleek visualization of every possible election outcome—all 512 of them. The site's flow chart picks apart the key battleground states to show how each candidate can theoretically arrive at the pivotal number of 270 electoral votes. It's entirely interactive and endlessly entertaining for political wonks and concerned citizens alike.
Facebook Stories – America Votes 2012
Sure, Facebook is slathered with political squabbling come Election Day, but the social network's latest tool is an interesting way to leverage Facebook's mountain of data and millions of U.S. users to track voting across the country. Though polls will be closing shortly, the site has tracked check-ins and mentions from polling stations across the country and displays the results on a map in real time. The tool may not have a whole lot of utility, but it's a fascinating way to make use of the fire hose of data from the social giant.
Tweetdeck/Hootsuite/Your Favorite Twitter Client
Twitter's importance in this election cycle now goes without saying, but rather than touting the power of Twitter itself, the real important digital tools for reporters, researchers and political junkies are the clients that allow one to monitor the torrent of Twitter data effectively and in real time. It takes some time and effort to set up and tweak a client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to fit one's specific needs, but if done right, it becomes an invaluable tool to follow any and all breaking news. Organized by "lists," seasoned Twitter users can construct real-time columns in Tweetdeck and Hootsuite that update with information from curated Twitter accounts (in this case, politically oriented ones). If this is the Twitter election, then no doubt the digital tool of choice will be one of these excellent products. One note of caution: Due to what is sure to be an unprecedented volume of tweets this evening, these clients may get bogged down or crash, as some have speculated.
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Blog
For someone who was virtually unknown in 2007, it's hard to understate Nate Silver's impact on the political climate in 2012. Silver's use of weighted polling average, simulation and linear regression analysis continues to be a subject of great debate into the final hours of the 2012 campaign. Regardless of partisan affiliations and bickering, Silver's approach, which won him accolades in 2008, is an example of a different brand of thinking, supported by math and the use of digital tools to run simulation models. Though Silver freely admits his model (like all models) is imperfect, there is no better—and no more talked about—example of digital tools being leveraged to form fresh conclusions during this complicated election season. Don't take our word for it? Silver's blog, which his hosted by The New York Times, drew 20 percent of the Times' total Web traffic on Monday.
There's many more great tools and platforms out there. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments.