How the Web Transformed this Year’s Election


As I mentioned earlier this week I chose to take in Tuesday’s historic election returns “web 2.0 style.” Its taken me a few days to cobble my thoughts together, but this morning I wanted to share a short synopsis.  Tuesday night I truly observed some amazing things and with the passage of Prop 8 in California am still observing them.  As the election returns rolled in I used CoverItLive to record my thoughts, but below you will find a summary five areas of significant interest even the Saturday after the election.

  1. Twitter – All day long I was in some way, shape, or form glued to Twitter. provided a constant stream of people updating their thoughts on the day an voting status.  For the most part it seemed like everyone was voting from Obama and made it look like there would be a landslide.  Just check out TwitVote to see what I mean.  However, as we now know the popular vote was closer than Twitter made it appear.  I assume Twitter attracts a younger demographic more apt to use its microblogging service and vote for Obama. On a personal level I enjoyed Twitter updates from a friend who lives near Obama in Hyde Park and she recorded what was happening in her neighborhood when Obama moved to the election night party at Grant Park. provided interesting insight on election day as well, but even four days out still has election-related material as a trending topic.  As of 11:30am PST today Obama is the third highest trending topic with California’s Prop 8 ranked at number five.
  2. Twitter Vote Report – While on the topic of Twitter we MUST discuss the Twitter Vote Report.  On election day, pundits were expecting Americans to turn out in droves.  As a result, there was a concern people may be stuck in really long, frustrating lines.  Twitter Vote Report provided an interactive map where Twitter users could “tweet” the location if their polling place and voting experience with the tag #votereport.  This data, along with text messages and phone reports was utilized to create a fascinating interactive map.  Throughout the day I grew concerned by the red dots appearing in Florida (all we needed was another 2000 election snafu there), but the problems disappeared as the day went on.
  3. Interactive Maps – Twitter Vote Report wasn’t the only interesting interactive map.  On the national level one of the best maps I found was actually the interactive map on the Fox News (or as some call it Faux News) website.  Click on a state and you can see county by county who supported McCain or Obama.  For the state of California, the Los Angeles Times website by far had the best interactive map.  Very easily you can view on a county level how candidates and propositions favored using a simple drop down menu.  After our polls closed I was glued to this site watching how Prop 1A (high speed rail), Prop 2 (cage-fee animals), and Prop 8 (gay marriage ban) fared.
  4. International News Coverage – Fox News and the LA Times hardly had a monopoly on interactive maps.  I found similar maps on the BBC website, Al Jazzera, and Deutsche Welle.  Amazingly, even today Obama’s election is the prominent story on every single one of these sites!  The world was watching us…and they still are.
  5. Flickr – Throughout the day I stopped by Flickr to see what people were posting.  In the morning I saw many images of “I Voted” stickers, polling places, and ballots.  Periodically, I checked anything with McCain or Obama as tags.  The eclectic mix of images was and still is fascinating.  I found pictures of Germans celebrating election night, a British man waking up in the middle of the night to check American election returns, and someone not too different than me.  As it was clear Obama would be the winner, watching photo uploads from the thousands of people at Grant Park was almost as interesting as viewing the televised video.

There are many other nifty examples of web 2.0 coverage from election night including uses of CoverItLive by the Sacramento Bee, CNN iReports, and probably the most talked about CNN-related topic on YouTube not related to election returns.

As I mentioned at the top of this post I am still watching amazing web 2.0 election-related material with the passage of Proposition 8.  This narrowly-passed initiative (52% to 48%) added an amendment to the California Constitution effectively banning the ability for gay and lesbian couples to marry.  Since the California Supreme Court ruled in June these couples could marry, an estimated 16,000 couples have done so and their marriage rights may be in jeopardy.  The two sides on Prop 8 spent $73 million on advertising during the election and since California had long been given to Obama this became our passionate election issue.  Since Prop 8 passed three lawsuits were filed and there have been protests in nearly every California city.  On Thursday protesters blocked traffic in Westwood.  Last night protesters snarled traffic on San Francisco’s Market Street.  Every night this week there has been a protest on the steps of the State Capitol with a giant one planned for Sunday afternoon.  While Prop 8 passed, 4.9 million Californians voted against it and are now much more galvanized than before Tuesday’s election.  Since Tuesday night  Facebook groups have organized to Repeal Prop 8 (152,606 members so far) and petition the IRS to revoke the tax exempt status of the Church of Latter Day Saints (they donated millions of dollars to the Yes on 8 side).  When you have a moment, take a look at Prop 8 posts on Search.twitter, Flickr, Google Blog Search, Technorati, CNN iReport, and YouTube.  I think you will be fascinated!  You’ll observe that citizens are using web 2.0 tools to express frustration and organize in ways that only developed as a result of this year’s election.  History is still being made….


Photo: We Did It! by Brian Hathcock on Flickr – as a father of 3 doxies you know I had to choose this one!

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