In a Presidential election year, we all spend a lot of time looking at maps to try to make sense of the news. Newspapers and television programs show us poll results, campaign events and voting patterns on maps, and show us various scenarios.
But now that we have Google Maps, we can all play around with this kind of mapped data. How does the current CNN polling compare with the New York Times projections? What if Pennsylvania goes red and Ohio goes blue this year? You can play around with the possibilities on the map below just by choosing different data sources using the dropdown, and clicking on each state to cycle through red, blue and toss-up and looking at the effect on the electoral votes. If you want a historical perspective, you can use the dropdown to see the electoral map for every presidential election back to 1932.
Elections ’08 Map Gallery — The Electoral Votes map is just one of the maps in Google’s Elections ’08 Map Gallery. You’ll also find maps showing the Campaign Trail, videos of Obama and McCain’s campaign appearances, and more. These maps are a great example of three trends– they’re geographical, interactive and embeddable.
Living Room Candidate — If you’ve had enough of the 2008 election, how about looking to the past? The Living Room Candidate website is a beautifully-designed online exhibit from the Museum of the Moving Image, showcasing presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to 2008. You can explore by year and read a short article about each candidate’s television strategy, or browse by type of commercial (biographical, fear, real people, etc.) or by issue (corruption, taxes, war, etc.)
But the amazing thing here is that you don’t just read about the commercials, you can watch them online and draw your own conclusions about how fair, accurate and effective they were. These primary sources are invaluable for media studies and political history.
Some of these are quite entertaining, too. I love the contrast between two 1952 commercials, Eisenhower’s cartoon “Ike for President” and Stevenson’s torchy “I Love the Gov.” commercial.
The Boston Phoenix has an interesting article comparing the websites of the Presidential candidates. It’s worth reading, and worth spending some time visiting all of the candidates sites not for the messages but to see how the candidates and their campaign organizations are embracing the web, multimedia and social networking to get those messages across.