US Politics: Web Resources for the Represented
Compiled by Doug Pennington
Nonpartisan Sources Ranked by Daily Usefulness
- There's no reason – except, perhaps, for avoiding schoolwork – to scan a dozen news outlets for the day's events. The Note digests the important print and broadcast media stories of each day and tells you which are important to read/watch and, most important, why. They also list candidates' daily schedules. This is a small shop out of ABC News, run by the network's political director, Mark Halperin. As the workplace of the "Googling Monkeys," it is where people who want to know first, go first.
- The Polling Report is a free, "just-the-facts," nonpartisan clearinghouse of publicly available national polls, surveying everything from the presidential race to national priorities to media celebrities. (A subscription will buy you their state-by-state polling information.) Updated almost daily.
- Real Clear Politics is a daily anthology of opinion journalism, as well as a clearinghouse of national and state-by-state political polling data. The publishers present their own conservative perspectives on the news, but they also present a range of liberal, conservative, and unaffiliated commentary on current events. Most important, they report all polling data as-is, regardless of who is ahead or behind.
- Campaigns & Elections magazine is a nonpartisan trade publication for professional political consultants. It's most useful – and free – online utility is The Political Oddsmaker. The magazine's publisher, Ron Faucheux ("fow-SHAY"), sets odds state-by-state in hundreds of races per year – all the way up to Election Day. With all the data at his disposal, plus his expertise (not to mention low Congressional turnover), he boasts a 98% success rate. Quite useful down the stretch.
- With a staff of two plus himself, Charlie Cook publishes one of the most respected, clear-eyed, and unvarnished assessments of every election cycle: The Cook Political Report. His website presents a mix of free and subscriber-only material, but what is free is extremely informative.
- Project Vote Smart provides a comprehensive set of facts and positions of officeholders and candidates at both the federal and state levels. Did we mention that it's comprehensive?
- Mark Hannah, U.S. Senator from Ohio and President William McKinley's campaign manager, once said, "There are two things important in politics: The first is money and I can't remember the second."
Both of these websites provide essential fundraising and expenditure information on political campaigns. Open Secrets provides information on national candidates and issues, while Follow the Money offers similar data on state candidates. Be warned. You could find yourself losing hours at a time on these fascinating websites.
- Howard (Howie) Kurtz does a one-man version of The Note. This guy might be the most prolific writer in print journalism, responsible for multiple columns per week. His piece, called "Media Notes," is useful more as another perspective, rather than as a daily resource.
Commentary From the Left (sort of)
- A blogger with the talent and the time to check reportage, from the liberal point of view. Very informative. Very funny.
About the Donkey
- Next to the Simpsons, perhaps the funniest show on television. During the Democratic National Convention, mainstream media found the Daily Show more interesting to cover than what was happening (or not happening) in Boston.
- Another media watchdog from the liberal perspective. Very informative. Very funny. (Do these people have jobs?)
- Dan Froomkin summarizes the pap coming out of the White House press office. His column is as much opinion as information. Perhaps will be "Conservative-ish" should Sen. Kerry become president.
- Sort of like The Daily Show without a censor. Ana Marie Cox runs a provocative, political, gossip-ladened blog that is extremely funny if you let it be. Not for kids or the faint of heart. Rated "R" for language.
Commentary From the Right (sort of)
- A provocateur who has the talent and the time to create reportage, from the conservative point of view. Very informative (at least one-third of the time. Quod vide Bill Clinton). Very funny.
About the Elephant
- Serious conservative opinion journalism from the leading lights of the conservative movement.
- The perspective on national politics from Washington, D.C.'s "other" newspaper.
- Handle with tongs. Pat Buchanan might not be conservative enough for these folks.
Commentary, Critique & Analysis, Neither Right nor Left
But not Necessarily Balanced or Even-Handed
- A combination of news stories and commentary that find fault in all sides. (Q.v. "curmudgeon.") Why publish? "Because nobody's life, liberty or property is safe when Congress is in session."
- Just the facts, just the stats, please. More people who the have time to tell us how and where one or another politician has lied to us. Fact Check and the National Annenberg Election Survey are projects of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
- By the Columbia Journal Review, the Campaign Desk publishes critique and analysis of election campaign coverage.
- The Campaign Legal Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which works in the areas of campaign finance, communications and government ethics. The Center "represent the public interest in administrative and legal proceedings where the nation's campaign finance and related media laws are enforced: at the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and in the courts."
- A running list of politics news stories, including some national and state polls.
- Founded in 1997, Politics1 is "published as a non-partisan public service to promote fully informed decision-making by the American electorate [and] continues to be one of the most popular political sites on the net." Whatever. Worth a quick check every once in a while. To the site's credit, Politics1 lists all presidential candidates, not just the Big 2 1/2 candidates.
- Political cartoons updated daily.
Mainstream Media Political News Coverage
BBC-UK edition: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
Chicago Tribune: www.chicagotribune.com/(registration required, free)
Christian Science Monitor: www.csmonitor.com/
Cincinnati Enquirer: www.enquirer.com/
CNN - Inside Politics: www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/
Fox: www.foxnews.com (scroll down for politics news)
Los Angeles Times: www.latimes.com/topic/politics/11000000.topic (registration required, free)
New York Times: www.nytimes.com/(registration required, free)
Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/?nav=left (registration required, free)
Emerging Media Political Blogs
- Just in case your brain can't handle two different perspectives Etalkinghead's Political Blog Directory identifies each blog's point of view for you. Is this the e-political guide for the perplexed? "Humor" is our favorite category.
- Bloglines crawls through the feeds of your favorite blogs once an hour (free registration).
And Because We're a Law School....
- Election Law @ Moritz is intended to be a guide through the legal thicket of the upcoming election focusing not only on the rudiments of the voting process but also on the interesting questions that this particular election season will certainly present (e.g., Do Republican Party attempts to get the Nader/Camejo ticket on the ballot in Michigan run askance of campaign finance law? If so, what are the remedies?). The site is updated every Tuesday to keep up with current issues in election law as they emerge. Each week there will also be an editorial on a timely topic by a Moritz Law faculty member.