How Obama Won Re-election

Election 2012 Usa: same president, a new data journalism

Whoever followed the Election Day 2012 news coverage on tv, in online newspapers or in blogs, must have noticed the extraordinary amount of data that journalists had at their disposal. Thanks to information collected in 2008, during the last election evening John King, a CNN chief national correspondent, was able to predict the voters’ preferences in each American county. So much so that the tv channels returned the political verdict ahead of the forecast, which was expected very early in the morning of the 13th. Although counting still hadn’t closed in Ohio, the CNN news anchor Wolf Blitzer announced around midnight the re-election of Obama. From that moment, Mitt Romney waited more than half an hour before showing up with the concession speech.

Not just the large amount of data, but also the way journalists and opinion leaders used it should surprise us. In journalistic practice, having good information in not enough – finding an easy way to spread it to an audience, any kind of audience, is the real goal. Well, the most popular American news outlets (CNN, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Fox News, etc.) have created an online interactive map of the country that allows people to verify easily and in an entertaining way their assumptions on election outcomes.

Moreover, The New York Times website has offered users 2 additional maps, titled Paths to the White House and How Obama Won Re-election. Thanks to the former, people, after selecting a winner in the most competitive states, were able to explore every possible electoral outcome. Indeed, the latter, which was uploaded on the Nytimes website the morning after the election, shows in an incredibly intuitive way that Obama won despite most of the nation shifting to the right on Tuesday night. The map also shows who the real supporters of Obama were: women, Hispanics and young voters.

Paths to the White House

Paths to the White House

How Obama Won Re-election

How Obama Won Re-election

What about social networks? There’s no doubt that they had a key role in spreading election enthusiasm among people. The Obama tweet “Four more years” was retweeted over 769,000 times, becoming the most retweeted tweet ever. He also posted a simple “thank you” on his Instagram feed, along with a confetti-filled picture. Facebook uploaded the special U.S. Politics page  and also Youtube opened a channel dedicated to the Election Day. What about Google+ ? Apparently, despite being active on his Google+ page for most of Election Day, Obama forgot to celebrate his victory on it!

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