We launched the Election DataBot in 2016 with the idea that it would help reporters, researchers and concerned citizens more easily find and tell some of the thousand stories in every political campaign. Now we’re making it even easier.
Just as before, the DataBot is a continuously updating feed of campaign data, including campaign finance filings, changes in race ratings and deleted tweets. You can watch the data come in in real time or sign up to be notified by email when there’s new data about races you care about.
DataBot’s new homepage dashboard of campaign activity now includes easy-to-understand summaries so that users can quickly see where races are heating up. We’ve added a nationwide map that shows you where a variety of campaign activity is occurring every week.
For example, the map shows that both leading candidates in Iowa’s 1st District saw spikes in Google searches in the week ending on Sept. 16 (we track data from Monday to Sunday). The Cook Political Report, which rates House and Senate races, changed its rating of that race from “Tossup” to “Lean Democratic” on Sept. 6.
When super PACs spend a lot of money in a House or Senate race, you’ll see it on the map. When Google search traffic spikes for a candidate, that’ll show up, too. We’re also tracking statements by incumbent members of Congress and news stories indexed by Google News. So when you get an email alerting you to new activity (you did sign up for alerts, right?), you can see at a glance the level of activity in the race.
The new homepage also allows you to look back in time to see how campaign activity has changed during the past 15 weeks, and whether what you’re seeing this week is really different than it was before. We’ve also added a way to focus on the races rated the most competitive by the Cook Political Report.
In order to highlight the most important activity, we weighted activity by type. Independent expenditures — where party committees and outside interest groups are choosing to spend their money — count twice as much as other types of activity.
Instead of state-level presidential election forecasts, we now are tracking changes to FiveThirtyEight’s “classic” forecast for each House and Senate contest. We’ve also added candidate statements for more than 500 campaigns whose websites produce a feed of their content.
The homepage map is just the first step in a more useful experience for DataBot users. We’ll be adding other layers of summary data, including details on social media activity, to the homepage, and additional ways to see how races have changed based on the activity feeds.
We’ll also be working to make the individual firehose item descriptions more useful; for example, saying whether a campaign finance filing has the most money raised or spent for that candidate compared with other reports.
We’d love to hear from you about ways to make Election DataBot more useful as Nov. 6 approaches.