Top 5 Interactive Graphics of the 2012 Presidential Election

Megan Isaak / Monday, November 5, 2012

As news outlets become more and more web centric, we see interactive graphics becoming more useful. The upcoming 2012 Presidential election has provided some interesting graphics, and here is a list of my top 5.

1. NY Times Electoral Map

This infographic serves two purposes. It starts by walking you through different scenarios to show you how the election could turn out. But then it does something magical at the end. It allows you to put together your own scenario, print it, send it and share it.

To be honest, the very first time I used this tool I didn’t realize that there were steps to walk through. I clicked “Make your own scenario” before I realized the default info graphic showed 8 possibilities including one in which Obama and Romney tied. Even though the next/previous buttons are dark blue, they still seem to get lost. The design team could have done a better job improving the user flow, making the path from static- to user-defined scenarios more intuitive.

One thing in particular that I liked about the scenarios is that they gave you information about each one and what they mean. For example, being reminded that the House of Representatives decides a tie was something I’d completely forgotten, and something that I think a lot of Americans may not know.

Once you start changing the electoral math around the states become bubbles. The size of the bubbles is representative of the amount of electoral votes the state holds. This provides a view, at a glance, of the relative importance of each state as measured by electoral votes.

The best part about this graphic is when you get to create your own scenario. It has a fantastic drag and drop feature that’s so easy to understand and use , that there is no learning curve.





Other Notable Electoral Math Maps:


2. NY Times Shifting States

This doesn’t necessarily help with this election, but it does provide a view of US voting trends over the years going back to the Eisenhower election. It allows you to follow how each state has voted and how those preferences have changed over time. This graphic is not only easy to use but it gives you highlights so you can view a particular state, or a shift in the years. It’s well designed, intuitive and extremely interesting to interact with.



3. CNN Campaign Explorer

Want to know how much a presidential candidate is spending on ads, receiving in fundraising, or where candidates are campaigning on that particular day? CNN has created this interactive map that not only shows you where the candidates stand in the polls but shows you money in/out and where the candidates are physically that day.

One of my favorite features about this Campaign tracker is that can you see 3 different pieces of information and the color of the states provide an additional layer of information. This is more informative when coupled with the tool tips. The information is provided in an easy, straightforward format.

By selecting a state, more detailed information is provided about that individual state. Even beyond that you can take this data and compare it side by side with another state and see fundraising, travel and ad spending.






Other Candidate Trackers:


4. CNN Candidates

For the undecided voters, CNN has taken and created a site that allows users to directly compare detailed information between the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. You can get twitter feeds, history, stories, how much money they have, and where they stand on issues. This informational graphic can be a bit lengthy but puts together needed information in an easy-to-read format. There is nothing particularly interesting about the layout or the UX, but the most important feature it offers is the easy to read, easy to compare format.



5. CNN – Are you voting:

CNN did something interesting. When you click on a link that says “Are you voting?” it takes you to this fantastic Facebook poll. Your responses to a series of questions, add to an interactive map (shown below). It’s a great tool, but it has some obvious usability problems. For example, even if you un-check the box that says “share on my timeline” it still prompts you to share. While a bit clunky, it has great information that can be really informative. CNN used Facebook integration to their advantage in order to gain information from people who are voting. It also brings users into the experience by allowing them to contribute to the information being shown.




People are extremely visual. These sites are adding to the news outlets coverage in ways that TV and Newspaper weren’t able to before. Users can view the data at their own pace and see what information is important to them.