We’ll admit: It’s a hard job trying to keep up with all of the political news, all the time. We live in a world of constant “breaking news” alerts on cable news, trending hashtags on Twitter, and incessant push notifications. That the current administration in the White House is unlike anything we’ve ever seen…well, that only adds to the need for breaking news.
Now with the 2018 midterm elections upon us, the nation’s attention is squarely on the political races in each state. As it should be. There’s a lot at stake during these midterm elections, after all.
So, where do you—as the eager and ready voter that you are—go to find information on the midterm candidates?
For starters, as a registered voter, your state’s election board will mail you a voter guide with information on each candidate, judicial nominees, and any issues on the ballot. That’s really just the starting point, though. The guides are composed of each candidate’s pre-written statements. You’ll have to do some digging to find out where someone stands on a particular issue, what their voting record looks like, and what financial backing they’ve received.
Luckily for you, there are a lot of third-party and nonpartisan organizations dedicated to keeping politicians accountable and informing the electorate (that’s you!) As a good starting point, we recommend The New York Times’ helpful interactive breakdown with F.A.Q.s about the election process.
If you’re interested the latest in poll data, you also can’t go wrong with the Forecast models from FiveThirtyEight which take a big-picture look at the likelihood of state races. And if you’re looking for up-to-the-minute updates, you can always follow the reporters who work the politics beat.
Prefer to do the research yourself? Ahead, we’ve compiled the following last-minute online resources and databases that will help you craft your own holistic approach to information on the midterms. Finding information on midterm candidates amid the sea of daily news sites can be tough. These sites make it easy to see what you need.
Bookmark these election information sites.
Simple enough, but if you’re looking for a who’s who and a what’s what of the 2018 midterms, be sure to check out the government’s election site. You can then search for your local election board website to check whether you’re registered and see what’s on the ballot.
Are you a WikiPedia fanatic? Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan online encyclopedia of politics. It’s sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Middleton, Wisconsin and covers federal, state, and local politics. You can use the site’s search function to look up what’s on your local ballot during the midterm elections. (Remember, who is up for election/re-election varies depending on your particular district.)
Vote Smart, formerly Project Vote Smart, is a non-partisan and non-profit organization that collects and distributes information on political candidates. You can access their database of info online using any of their interactive search tools like the “Political Galaxy” or the “Vote Easy.”
Want to create your own handy checklist for how you should vote on Election Day? Vote411 helps you double-check that you’re registered to vote, provides your polling place and allows you to create your own sample ballot. You can then print it out and use as a handy reminder when you go to cast your ballot. This is especially helpful if you’re in a state like California, where the sheer number of propositions on the ballot can confuse even the most ardent political followers.
Head Count typically works with musicians and concert organizers to help ensure voters are registered and ready to cast a ballot. While it’s not the most comprehensive site on this list, it does provide a a good directory for voters to other election sites like the ACLU-CIO’s Legislative Voting Records scorecard.
Launched in 2003, FactCheck.org is the oldest of the political fact-checking sites on the internet. As a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FactCheck aims to combine scholarship and journalism in order to serve as a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate.” The group monitors the veracity of actions, interviews, and press statements from major US political players across the political spectrum.
Originally begun in 2007 as a project of the Tampa Bay Times,Politifact has since grown to a not-for-profit national news organization. Today, Politifact is run by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, another nonprofit journalism organization. Similar to political scorecards on other fact-checking sites, Politifact rates the accuracy of a politician’s claims using its “Truth-O-meter.” You can read articles on national news stories and search for fact-checking stories by subject.
Ever heard of how many “Pinocchios” a candidate’s statement has? That’s because the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, run by journalist Glenn Kessler uses a score of Pinocchios to rank how accurate a political statement is. Originally begun as a feature during the 2008 presidential election, the Post revived the blog as a permanent feature in 2011. Fact Checker scorecard has become so ubiquitous in politics that attack ads have alluded to the Pinocchio scorecard (leading to Fact Checker fact-checking its own usage. You can read more about their ranking and scorecard here.
A project of the journalism nonprofit ProPublica, Represent helps you quickly “See what your representatives in Congress say and do.” The interactive site allows you to search for your local congressional representatives. Just type away your address and click on the profile of an elected official to learn things like what bills they’re sponsored, what statements they’ve recently released and how often the vote with or against party lines. You can also search for bills, statements or lobbying groups.