Google launches political hub for 2012 elections

Google has launched a hub for keeping track of the (increasingly digital) U.S. elections.

As the country prepares for a hot presidential race later this fall, the web is flooded with news, videos and events related to our collective political goings-on. Google.com/Elections organizes information for voters, politicians and journalists all in one centralized dashboard.

“There’s no question that the Internet is set to deliver more political information, opinion and news than any other medium throughout the 2012 U.S. elections,” writes Googler Eric Hysen on the company blog.

Hysen says the new portal is “an election hub where citizens can study, watch, discuss, learn about, participate in and perhaps even make an impact on the digital campaign trail.”

Each person in the race has his or her own page in the hub. On each individual’s page, you can see news items and videos as they become available.

Those who want a fix of real-time stats can check out the Trends section of the hub, which shows searches by volume for each candidate as well as YouTube views and mentions in Google News stories. If you click the “Play” button in the top left corner of the page, you can even see how each trend played out over time.

Trends can be viewed by day, week or month and also by state. Each particular trend for a particular candidate can be expanded to show more detail.

YouTube.com/Politics brings its own variety of data. This section of Google’s video site shows the top five politics-focused clips from each month as well as a sweet-looking graph showing how each of the candidates compares in terms of video views.

Google’s hub also has a Maps-powered section called On the Ground, which shows news events as they happen on a timeline and on a map. For now, the map centers on Iowa, where the first Republican caucuses will take place tomorrow, January 3, 2012.

As more and more barometers of success pop up on the web, we have increasingly democratic tools for parsing our candidates’ popularity. Google’s Elections hub is just one more way of tracking who is winning Americans’ hearts and minds, but who will win the Republican primary — and the presidential election — is still anyone’s guess.

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