The Winners and Losers of Super Tuesday’s Infographics

The media circus is only beginning as the country gets ready for a full blown presidential election campaign. Here are the winners and losers from last night’s coverage of Super Tuesday.

The Fantastic

Is anyone else kind of surprised with how strong the WSJ’s Super Tuesday and election visualizations are? The Journal prominently displays all of its campaign visualizations on the website. It has a feverline chart that allows readers to compare how the candidates are doing, compared to each other and to Obama. The WSJ’s coverage stands out because it uses multiple sources, which may help readers to have a better understanding of how the candidates fare (if they are willing to review all the charts).

The WSJ also has a delegate count map that’s interactive, so readers can click on the timeline to see how many delegates the Republican candidates won, and from which states. But it doesn’t breakdown by country.

The WSJ’s visualizations are sleek and modern. Most of the graphics invite readers to participate by clicking on various options.

The Great

From the reporting to multimedia to visualizations, the New York Times has decent coverage of the primaries. The Times primaries map is easy to read. It shows which states were won by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, or the other candidates, and it breaks down the percentage of the vote while still stating whether all the votes have been accounted for. Readers can also see the breakdown of votes per county if they click on a state. A button on the top left side of the map allows reader to zoom out to view the entire map.

The map refreshes every two minutes, which gives the readers the most up-to-date information when the newspaper covered the event live. The map also indicates the dates of upcoming primaries.

There is a second visualization, the Republican delegate count, that shows readers how many more delegates the candidates need to win the nomination. If there any doubts, The Times clearly states its sources.

Another visualization compares campaign finances between President Obama and each of the main Republican candidates. But it’s not as up-to-date as the other visualizations and readers can’t click for more information from the maps. As the primaries continue, it’d be nice to see more detail in the campaign finances maps.

The Mediocre

I’m sure the Washington Post had some great visualizations of Super Tuesday, but I couldn’t find any graphics prominently displayed on the main page. The Post had one graphic called “Stepping up to the GOP nomination.” It was slightly confusing to understand. The Times had the same source, which was the Associated Press, but the Post’s graphic was ugly. All the major candidates were placed on top of each other. I don’t know why the graphic designers would do that. At first glance, it gave the impression that Santorum had the highest delegate count because he was on top.

The Post has a better graphic on TV ads spending. It reviews cumulative spending since November as well as weekly spending. The graphic also shows how much each major election candidate, including Obama, and the super PACs have put toward TV ads, including whether the ads were negative or positive. I don’t know why the Post has buried this graphic by placing it low on its main 2012 campaign page. In fact, most of the Post‘s graphics are placed low on the main 2012 campaign page under “campaign tools”.

Common, Post, give your graphic designers some love.

The “It Could Be Better” 

Politico’s website isn’t going win any awards for its visualizations. It’s also hard to imagine how Politico’s boring visualizations will attract new readers who aren’t regularly keeping up with the election coverage. Aside from the articles, there’s nothing new or interesting about the graphics that sets it apart from the other newspapers. In fact, the candidate tracker map seems outdated for a major news organization.

Politico’s election map neatly displays information but it doesn’t take advantage of using colors to visually guide readers. If a reader clicks on Florida, she wouldn’t know who won unless she clicked on the pop-up. Also, the map doesn’t have a breakdown of which candidates won each primary so far. It may show on another map, but I couldn’t find it.


It’ll be great to see how these websites continue to adapt to using infographics and visualizations as the  2012 elections go full speed.


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