Election 2012

How the Washington Post made its election-predictor tool

Source | Washington Post

NPR news apps developer Jeremy Bowers discusses in Knight-Mozilla OpenNews’ Source the legwork that went into the Washington Post’s election predictor app.

Bowers worked with the Post’s Ezra Klein and graphics editor Emily Chow to produce the tool, which launched in April 2012 using economic data models from to predict the likelihood of President Obama being re-elected. In the essay, Bowers says the work of political science professors John Sides at George Washington University, Lynn Vavreck at UCLA, and Seth Hill at Yale (now of UC-San Diego) was integral to the process. Read more


Why The New York Times, Washington Post called the election late

The New York Times
NBC called the election at 11:14 p.m. ET Tuesday night. The magnificently cautious Associated Press waited until 11:38 p.m. So why didn’t The New York Times sign off on another four years of Barack Obama until 12:03 a.m. Wednesday, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan asks.

Unlike the television networks, which depend on their combined exit polls in calling elections, The Times prefers to look at real numbers in addition to exit polls, said Janet Elder, an associate managing editor who is part of The Times’s election “decision desk.”

“We have been disciplined” she said, “and it has paid off.”

Read more
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers his concession speech at his election night rally in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Gaffes defined and defied campaign narratives, but did they affect who won?

As Mitt Romney visited Poland this summer, Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker shouted a question to the candidate that revealed a lot about the media’s coverage of the campaign.

“What about your gaffes?” Rucker called out, as Gov. Romney walked to his car in Warsaw.

The governor didn’t answer, but the question highlighted the focus of much of the media’s day-to-day narrative. Journalists, bloggers, pundits — and sometimes the campaigns themselves — gleefully piled on after either candidate committed a perceived misstep or uttered an inelegant statement.

From President Obama’s declaration that “the private sector is doing fine” (labeled as an “economic gaffe” by ABC News) to Gov. Romney’s admission that “I’m not concerned about the very poor” (a possible “monster gaffe,” declared The Week), the campaign narrative often centered more on the candidates’ offhand ad libs than their platforms or policy records. Read more


Backgrounds become foreground in election night images

Elections provide journalists great lessons about the power of visual journalism, especially election nights.

When Mitt Romney delivered his concession speech, he was standing on a stage, alone, with flags and a big red, white and blue screen behind him. He accepted the loss alone. His running mate, Paul Ryan, is spared the damage of being photographed at a low moment. Romney spoke lovingly of his wife, but out there by himself, his statement — “She would have been a wonderful first lady” — took on a genuine pain that might have felt forced if she were standing there with him.

Image captured from CBS News coverage

Contrast that with Obama’s victory speech, when cheering throngs surrounded him and his family. In 2008, on election night, Obama stood outside in the Chicago cold with his family. Read more


Why photo of the First Couple was Obama’s most retweeted ever

Images and graphics are often the things shared most by people after an event of last night’s magnitude.

Photos capture moments frozen in time.

Graphics can distill the complex.

Interactive graphics can allow people to peruse and discover at their own pace.

Illustration is striking—partly because it is used so infrequently—and because something drawn by hand can convey a very human aspect of mood and emotion.

There were some masterful examples of visual storytelling captured, created, experienced and shared in real-time around the world last night.

Here are a few things that caught our attention.

This image of President Obama and the first lady was tweeted out by his staff minutes after he was re-elected for a second term with the phrase: “Four more years.” Twitter reports it is his most re-tweeted tweet, ever. Read more


Karl Rove challenges Fox’s election-night data operation in ‘odd civil war’

Tampa Bay Times | The New York Times | Slate | The Washington Post | The Atlantic Wire
After Fox called Ohio for President Obama Tuesday night, Karl Rove challenged the network’s decision, leading to the unusual sight of anchor Megyn Kelly being filmed walking through Fox’s corridors to interview people at the network’s decision desk. I couldn’t find one clip of the whole episode, but here it is in three parts: Read more

Screen Shot 2012-11-07 at 10.28.51 AM

Mistakes were made, but few on election night

The 2012 election will not be remembered for what the press got wrong.

News organizations made some mistakes on election night but quickly corrected them. That’s about as good a result as one can hope for on an evening where so many things can and often do go wrong.

The most notable election error was a rumor that spread on Twitter claiming NBC News had declared Elizabeth Warren the winner in her Massachusetts race for the Senate. (This was before she actually won.)

ThinkProgress and New York Magazine each passed along the information and then tweeted corrections. (CAP deleted the tweet and I don’t see a correction in its timeline):

Read more

How the Tampa Bay Times covered Election Day

Covering a presidential election in a swing state like Florida is all about preparing for the unknown.

Adam Smith, political editor for Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times, had planned to write three stories on Election Day: an analysis about the race being undecided, another one about Barack Obama winning and another one about Mitt Romney winning.

But he only ended up writing one.

“As the results started coming in, I felt more comfortable writing the ‘Obama is winning’ story,” Smith told me just after Obama was re-elected. “I would have been screwed if suddenly Romney had launched a comeback. I could have adjusted, but I didn’t give myself a lot of time.” 

Preparing for a close election

Amy Hollyfield, assistant managing editor/politics, was the driving force behind the Times’ Election Day preparations. Read more


Networks call election for President Obama before 11:30 p.m.

It turns out it wasn’t such a long night after all. By 11:18 p.m. — without final numbers from Florida or Virginia — President Obama was declared the winner, re-elected for a second term with Ohio carrying him over 270 electoral votes. NBC and Fox News called the election earliest, followed by CNN. The Associated Press called the race a bit later, around 11:38 p.m. Read more


5 really cool things we saw on election night

News organizations are pulling out some special efforts for election night. Here’s a handful of the coolest projects we’ve seen.

The WNYC map

“We knew that The New York Times, L.A. Times, The Chicago Tribune — everybody would be doing the red-blue map,” John Keefe, Senior Editor for Data News & Journalism Technology at WNYC, told me Tuesday night. “We thought, what can we offer that would be different?”

The result was this map, which categorizes the vote results by the “community types” designated by the Patchwork Nation project. So at a glance you can see how communities with labels like “military bastions,” “monied ‘burbs,” and “tractor country” are voting. Read more

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