How to follow the election like someone who still cares

Nick Blank

As the maelstrom of election season collides with an increasingly apathetic populace, I think we can all agree it’s far more important to impress your friends in high-end coffee shops or through passive aggressive Facebook memes than it is to display a genuine concern for the country. You only need to look like you care. It’s like the Olympics: pay attention for a month and then forget about it. To that, I’d ask where you were you during the mid-term election (which is arguably just as important).

Everyone likes to pretend they know everything about politics. Roughly six in ten Americans vote. Experts expect Millennial (hopefully the last time I use that word) voters to arrive en masse. Even if you’re a fossil who reads newspapers or watches news on TV, most of what you read about the election is on the internet.

The problem with the internet is the freedom. We have significantly more voices that can say what they want, but as a result there’s too much clutter. When deciding the country’s elected leaders, there are a few concerns for the average media viewer: where do the candidates stand on the issues? What exactly are the issues? Does this media outlet covering the candidates have a slant: biased, sensational or otherwise? Is the information accurate? What demographic (race, economic class, age) is the outlet gunning for and how does that affect coverage? How do you find specific examples of policy rather than curated soundbites to engage as many viewers as possible?

Here’s how to survive the media onslaught and give the illusion you’re interested until Nov. 8 hits us.

Stay off Facebook.

Election-season Facebook is the nadir of the information age. So much misinformation, so many memes, and only one solution: block everyone.

Still Unsure? Download Voter (App Store only).

Find a candidate with matching ideological stances through swiping. It’s Tinder for elections, but with less shame.

Prognostication: 270toWin

Create your own election forecast on 270towin.com. Look, I made one!

Graphic by Nick Blank
Graphic by Nick Blank

One can only be so optimistic.

Information: Rock the Vote

Here’s an organization with the goal of increasing the number of young, more educated voters, which is never a bad thing. They’re not insufferably out-of-touch like those MILLENNIAL-DRIVEN anti-smoking campaigns. And look at all the celebrity endorsements. If Samuel L. Jackson tells you to vote, you vote motherf—er.

Humor: The Onion

Photo courtesy of The Onion
Photo courtesy of The Onion
Photo courtesy of The Onion
Photo courtesy of The Onion

Does anyone do it better?

Best Journalists to Follow on Twitter (in no particular order)

Alex Thompsen, VICE                                   @AlxThomp

Tamara Keith, NPR                                       @tamarakeithNPR

Elon James White, This Week in Blackness @elonjames

Molly Ball, The Atlantic                                  @mollyesque

Robert Costa, Washington Post                    @costareports

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight                           @NateSilver538

Amy Chozick, New York Times                     @amychozick

Ezra Klein, Vox Media                                   @ezraklein

Fact Check Yo’ Self before You Wreck Yo’ Self: Politifact

The process: politician says something, Politifact researches the claim, they let you know the accuracy of the statement on the Truth-O-Meter (with a snarky comment). Simple.

Photo courtesy of Politifact
Photo courtesy of Politifact

Snopes works too.

Profiles: Ballotpedia

A comprehensive site for finding and comparing the beliefs, and policies of the four main candidates. They have tiles in each profile for candidate positions for economics, and domestic and foreign affairs. Then there’s candidate polling numbers, personal histories and money trail. That much knowledge is extensive and exhausting; I’m crawling back into my allegorical cave of ignorance.

Analysis: FiveThirtyEight

We all knew ESPN had the resources to bankroll entertaining websites rather running repetitive sports jargon like ESPN.com. You know how Grantland (R.I.P) used a community of engaging pop-culture writers to dissect the zeitgeist for some of the best longform in the last decade? FiveThirtyEight basically does the same thing with stats. I don’t know what the numbers mean, but I’m more informed from reading right?

On Election Night:

TV: PBS

PBS wins by default. Every network unfurls their talking heads for the special occasion, but PBS probably has the least antagonizing, least droning, least intolerable ANALYSTS of the bunch.

Laptop: New York Times election tracker

Sleek, painless and aesthetically pleasing.

Phone: The Guardian Live Blog

Whether elections, terrorist attacks, or soccer matches the UK-Based Guardian produces the best live-blogging there is with rapid updates, analysis and a lively commenter base.

Tablet: You have too much money. Three things is enough.

 

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].