Tracking Presidential Campaigns

If you’re a politics junkie, have a look at both the Washington Post and the New York Times. Each have excellent campaign tracking pages for the 2008 presidential election.

The Washington Post page implements this using Django and a custom Google mashup for all dates past and future. It is extensively cross-indexed by date, place, candidate, and more. Detailed event summaries are provided. We’ve had this feature up for almost as long as this “early” election cycle has been around. Alyson Hurt and Adrian Holovaty collaborated extensively on this project. Event data is continuously updated by WPNI staff.

wash post election tracking

The New York Times page is newer and focuses on past events in their map-based interface, but also has a listing of future events by date and candidate. The map is implemented in Flash by Shan Carter & Co. but is still powered by a database backend.

The map timeline can be played in whole or “scrubbed” in part and individual candidates can be isolated (very nice!). The map reveals more geographic detail on zoom in, and prebuilt zooms are provided for key “battleground” states such as Iowa, giving several “entry points” into the graphic. Nitpick: There should be a “show all” listed at the bottom of the zoom list to go back to the full US map.

Graduated circles with transparency effectively convey the magnitude of event clusters, and the “onion skinning” of seeing more than one date at a time complements trend analysis. Mouse overs provide a quick summary of who had how many events at that location. But event details are not accessible. I wish onRelease (“Click for more”) would take me to a detailed listing like on the Post site. Circle diameter could be scaled better on zoom-in, too.

I find the Google Calender offer interesting but overwhelming. Perhaps better to subscribe to a particular candidate’s schedule, not all of them en mass!

new york times election map

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