Election DataBot: harnessing the power of the matrix

Simon Rogers
Sep 8, 2016 · 4 min read
Image from Giphy
  • Google search data: Real-time Google search interest for each of the candidates in the 435 House races, 34 Senate seats up for grabs, and the Presidential race.
  • Voting records and congressional data: Voting history for all incumbent candidates from the ProPublica Represent database of voting history and the ProPublica Congress API.
  • Race ratings and forecasts: Which way is each seat and state leaning? Race ratings are from the Cook Political Report. Race forecasts are from FiveThirtyEight.
  • Latest polling data: via the Huffington Post polling API, which collates hundreds of polls.
  • Demographics: Data from the Census Bureau on the demographic breakdown of each area.
  • Coming soon… Latest campaign YouTube videos added by each candidate, as they add them, plus API access.

How to use the Election DataBot

There are different ways to get the key data needed from the tool. In particular you can view:

The Firehose

Every time there’s a single new filing or data point, it shows up in the Firehose. This is the unfiltered equivalent of seeing the inner workings of an election happen in real time.

Trending candidates

Every single politician up for election is ranked to see whether they are trending over the past four hours — which means they have started accelerating quickly in search (you can read more about ‘trending’ data here).

Individual candidates

Every single candidate has a page of data associated with them. Each page has the latest data on that candidate, including Google search data, FEC filings and spending summaries. As of today, the page for the Presidential candidates tells you that of spending outside the campaign:

  • $110.4m has been spent against Donald Trump — compared to $15.6m in support of him. See the Trump page.

Races

There’s a page for each state and national race where you can compare the candidates to one another — and see which way the polls are leaning — demographic data, Google Trends data comparing the candidates in search and more.

Notifications

Following a specific race? You can set alerts to notify you when a new filing or data point happens.

More filters

Click on a type of report and you can choose just to see them. So click on ‘polls’ and you get all the latest polls. Click on ‘trending’ and you can see all the latest trending Google search alerts.

Play with the data

The best data journalism is about sharing data and making it open and available, with that, all data journalism becomes stronger. In essence, it’s about creating a community around the data. And that community becomes even more important during an election campaign when the data is the stuff of democracy itself. That’s where the Databot comes in. And we can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Google News Lab

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Simon Rogers

Written by

Data journalist, and Data Editor at Google. Launch editor of Guardian Datablog. Author, Facts are Sacred http://t.co/bL5erqoI7z. All views my own

Google News Lab

We work with journalists and entrepreneurs to build the future of media with Google. The News Lab is Google's effort to empower innovation at the intersection of media and technology