Don’t let the breakneck speed of the ubiquitous 24-hour news cycle make you throw up your hands and tune out this year’s election. You can follow what’s happening on the campaign trail right from your smartphone, tablet or laptop with an arsenal of apps and other clever tools. Whether you’re looking to see how a given candidate will impact your wallet or you want to subtly influence your friends to put your favorite candidate in office, we’ve got you covered.
Want to know how a candidate’s stance on various issues might affect your pocketbook? Politify (politify.us) can help. This online tool takes your income, marital status, age, ZIP code and number of family members and crunches the numbers to show you the exact dollar amount that a presidential candidate’s policies would have on your personal finances. You can then register your support or disapproval, or donate to a campaign from the site.
Regardless of the popular vote, the presidential candidate must have 270 electoral votes to win. Interactive map 270ToWin shows predictions on which candidate will win this November based on NBC News, as well as the predictions of political insiders Larry Sabato and Charlie Cook. If prognosticating based on those sources doesn’t do it for you, you can make your own predictions and share that map with your social networks. Or you can pull up a map of the electoral college results from any election since 1789. You can find 270ToWin.com online, as iPhone and iPad apps or on Twitter.
NYTimes Election 2012
The national newspaper of record offers a free app for Android or iPhone for those who want to keep up with the serious side of politics, but you’ll need a New York Times subscription ($15 per month) to access the content. That money gets you a continuous feed of developments from The Caucus blog, FiveThirtyEight, the paper’s latest poll numbers and candidate information broken down state by state.
This mobile site, currently in beta, curates news articles from 50,000 sources and 360,000 user-generated forums to bring you news about the political topics you care about. You start by creating an account or signing in through Facebook, and then you can sort information by your geographical location, your public figure of choice or by issues you care about, such as education or gay rights. The site makes it super simple to comment on stories and share those stories with your friends through Facebook.
Comedy Central Indecision Election Companion
The app includes an interactive Peanut Gallery where viewers can react to the latest episodes of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or “The Colbert Report,” as well as recent debates and other live political events. The Snap Shots feature showcases the funniest political pictures of the day, while the calendar section lets you set reminders for yourself to tune in to important events such as key election dates. And, of course, you can share news from the app with Facebook or Twitter.
Available for Android and iOS through Handmark, this free app combines national and local political news from CNN Political Ticker, FactCheck, Hotline OnCall and Politics Daily to put all your political news coverage in one place. Plus, you get the top tweets from both Democrats and Republicans. You can also check on recent political polls from Politico, Pollster and RealClear Politics. But the coolest feature is called TalkBack, which enables users to send a note or to share a story directly with elected officials.
Google Politics and Election
Like Google News for the political landscape, Google.com/elections aggregates the most recent stories on the candidate and issues such as the economy in an easy-to-scan Web interface. Google makes it simple to sort the news by a specific time frame or story popularity, and you can get the political news of the day fed to you through Google . But our favorite feature of Google Politics and Elections is the map results feature, allowing you to hover over a U.S. map to see an instant pop-up of the current election results in that state.
Politifact Fact Tracking
“Is he lying?” That’s what we all want to know about the candidates. Politifact Fact Tracking for iOS ($1.99) compares what the candidate says with what they have done so far. If they don’t match up, the truth-o-meter goes off. You can view what candidates and politicians have said based on their truth “trends,” which can help you conclude whether someone is the right candidate for you.
By connecting this Web service to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, you can create a profile boasting your previous voter history and quickly see who of your friends are registered to vote. The idea is that you can then actively campaign through those networks to elect your candidates. You can see, for example, who among your friends is a registered voter, who lives in areas where races you’re interested in are coming up, ways to organize virtual canvassing efforts and more.
Campaign commercials and stump speeches are just the tip of the political video iceberg. YouTube Politics (Youtube.com/user/politics) aggregates it all, from late-night talk show appearances by the candidates to user-submitted videos about them. Each presidential candidate also has his own channel where you can view, subscribe and share your favorite videos.