Why you should care
Because politics is a spectator sport — at least for those of us sitting at home.
One is company, and two is a crowd. Twenty-two presidential hopefuls? That’s a mob. Simply keeping tabs on who’s in and who’s out of the race can get messy. Not too long ago, political junkies would have had to clip newspapers to find that perfect Donald Trump quote that just made them quiver — with rage or with pleasure (no judgment here). Luckily, parties can now give you the spin of the day with live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat, bypassing that pesky old medium. Heck, Rand Paul’s app even lets you chime in on Senate-floor votes. Or, if you prefer, you can #FeelTheBern with this app that creates emojis of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Here are some other apps and online tools to help you keep tabs on the elections.
If the question, “What did each of the candidates say today about immigration?” keeps you awake at night, then this web app may be the answer to your crisis. “Nobody should be expected to know everything that’s going on,” says FWD.us executive director Todd Schulte, especially with a presidential field that probably exceeds the weight limits of an elevator. This free tracker compiles every quote on immigration daily. Plus, it’s colorful and has some pretty snazzy mug shots of the men and women vying to be the next leader of the free world. Unfortunately, it’s not available for mobile. Another feature of the site, the GOP Future Project, allows users to adjust voting demographics via an interactive graphic to see how changes could impact votes for the Republican party. The FWD.us calls itself nonpartisan in its single-issue push toward immigration reform, although Schulte himself is the former chief of staff at Priorities USA, a pro-Obama super PAC.
Polls get flung around during political season more than streamers at a Fourth of July party, making it hard to see the actual results. The Frontrunner iOS app gives you a graph that lists the most recent polls for both the Democratic and Republican primaries. One plus: It instantly visualizes candidates’ ups and downs throughout the political season with helpfully color-coded segments. However, it shows only the top five candidates by popularity, so fans of Rick Santorum, who is polling at less than 1 percent, may need to close their eyes and wish it was 2012 again. Once you pick a party to follow, you’ll have to shell out $1.99 to see the other side. Frontrunner is good for a quick look at the standings, but for more complex assessments you’ll probably want to check out helpful websites like 270 to Win or Real Clear Politics instead.
Politifact is one of the most popular national brands covering politics. After all, it tells you when politicians are the dirty, no-good liars you suspected them to be. Or, if you’re the optimistic sort, it confirms that your candidate is truly an Honest Abe. While Politifact is mostly a staple in newspapers, its app is surprisingly nimble. The Truth-o-Meter fits easily on a mobile screen, and seeing who has earned the infamous “pants-on-fire” rating is as entertaining as ever. Not only has Politifact pissed off politicians, but it’s also gotten pundits’ panties in a twist. MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow complained about Politifact’s “Mostly True” ruling on a statement by President Barack Obama in 2012 and shouted in Trump-ian fashion: “You are fired!” But thankfully, Politifact is not, and we are all the better for it.