I don’t know about you, but I’m already up to my elbows in election coverage. But there’s no avoiding it — there’s a presidential election in November and we’re going to be hearing about it until then. So to make it a little easier to keep up, Google has announced a new election hub at http://google.com/elections/ed/us. (There’s one for Egypt, too, at http://google.com/elections/ed/eg, but I’ll be covering the US version here.)
The site contains news about the elections in general in the middle, with the Democrat and Republican candidates on the left nav. And let me start my rant here.
I don’t care what your politics are. Truly. I strive to keep ResearchBuzz apolitical, because ideally, an interest in well-crafted information pools, organized data, and groovy pinball machines should cross all political boundaries. Right?
But it bothers me that in these times, when dissatistfaction with politics is so intense, that Google is sticking with providing information on only two political parties. It’s not like Google doesn’t have enough newsprint or space in its magazine. It’s not like there aren’t automated mechanisms for gathering information. Yes, there are eight gazillion political parties and maybe you don’t want to include the Tomato Donut Party that has only three members. But you could make a case for the Green and Libertarian parties, which have appeared regularly on many state ballots. You could make a case for the Constitution Party, which is the other “third party” with over 100,000 registered voters according to Wikipedia. And you could point at the many independent candidates in recent history which have managed to get on state ballots despite, um, interesting ballot access laws (that’s a whole ‘nother indignant post) as an indicator of voter interest in choices.
My point is that you could use standards to define political parties and candidates for inclusion that would reach beyond Democrat and Republican. Would you make everybody happy? Good grief, no, this is politics after all. On the other hand, Google could choose to do what mainstream media has often failed to do: let the American voter know they have other choices besides Democrat and Republican.
Okay, I’m done. It’s 3:30 am and I just finished a political rant. I feel all icky.
HOW ‘BOUT THEM WELL-CRAFTED INFORMATION POOLS?
Anyway, candidates on the left. Also on the left: political issues! Yes, you can choose from several issues, including Economy, Heathcare, and Social Issues. (That seems somewhat limited, but remember, you can always run your own search, as I did for “Pizza” above. THIN CRUST PARTY!) Choose one and you’ll get news in the middle. You can choose to look just at news, or just at video. Google puts only a few videos on the site put points you to an entire YouTube channel devoted to politics if you want more.
Google also has trends for the candidates, showing volume of search, news mentions, and YouTube video views. (You can break these down to the day, and theoretically look at individual candidate results, but every time I tried that I got an “unresponsive script” warning.) There’s an “On the Ground” section that maps not only news stories but also YouTube videos (including adorable local car dealership ads.) Iowa is the hot spot right now as you can imagine.
This is a good start, but considering the rise of Facebook and Twitter, it felt a little lacking. When reviewing candidate news I could start here, but I would rapidly branch off in other directions.