Political apps that will keep you up-to-date with the election

Nathan McMahon

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With 2012 election coverage kicking into full gear, everyone should be informed and entertained as much as possible. To keep up to date with the latest news and events and rumblings and grumblings from all sides of our vast political spectrum there is no better way to accomplish this than downloading apps to your smartphone.

Here are 10 to get you rolling right into your own personal election overdose. We’re also going to assign a score to them using our electoral scoring system. The states that have a low number of electoral votes (Montana-3) means the app isn’t that good. The states that have a high number of apps (California-55) means it’s great.

App Name: The New York Times: Election 2012
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free and subscription
What It Does: This app from The New York Times is a news aggregator for anything and everything related to the 2012 election. It pulls stories from The Times own website and displays them in easy list form. While The Times has great news pieces they also have an opinion section, election guide and multimedia section that let you dig into the gritty details. The only problem is that they put its best stuff behind a digital paywall, so you’re out of luck if you don’t have a subscription. They do offer student discounts for the subscription-based service, so there is that at least.
Electoral Votes: Pennsylvania (20) The vaunted legacy of the New York Times cannot be compared, but the paywall is a real downer.

App Name: Race for the White House 2012
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free with ads or $0.99
What It Does: It makes the campaign trail into a puzzle/RPG game. You pick your side, Obama or Romney, and make your platform and you’re off to the races. An electoral map is your guide and your goal is to spend your money as best as possible in all of the states. You can buy ad time, hold rallies and give speeches. The canned phrases and answers for the events are often nonsense, which is odd. They occasional tread into the topical though and that makes for a more engaging game. The percentages that you start with don’t seem to reflect the current polling either which can be confusing if you are paying attention to the news.
Electoral Votes: Massachusetts (11) While a somewhat competent time-waster, it’s lacking in charm and gets boring pretty fast.

App Name: PollTracker
Version: iOS
Price: Free
What It Does: PollTracker is an app that does just that. It tracks and aggregates a wide variety of reputable public opinion polls. The app does an amazing job of breaking down polls by state, issues, senate and house seats, and a plethora of other categories. It is put out by the news website Talking Points Memo, so it also offers analysis from veteran reporters. This app is really an outstanding source that is constantly being upgraded and lets you keep track of who’s leading in this election cycle.
Electoral Votes: California (55) This app is perfect for what it does and that’s the best you can expect especially when it’s free.

App Name: Comedy Central’s Indecision Game
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free to play but you can buy upgrades if you’d like
What It Does: Comedy Central’s role in the political realm is one that is funny and searing when it comes to their commentary on the absurdities of both parties. This app brings their subtle brand of humor and turns it into a fun trivia game. The catch is that it also tracks your party affiliation and posts who is the smarter party based on how many correct questions are answered. The game is simple in its execution, but also addictive in the prizes and bragging rights of being in the smarter party. Right now, the Democrats lead but that can change at any moment so keep playing gentle electorate.
Electoral Votes: California (55) Trivia is a always a blast, and the nifty avatar awards make for a compelling gameplay experience.

App Name: Obama/Biden 2012
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free
What It Does: How do you like your campaign propaganda? Vegetarian Democrat? If you answered yes to that then this is the app for you. Get the latest biased news and tips from the Obama campaign’s own app. It’s pretty basic in its intent and offers news on events and schedules. It also has some features like registering voters and of course, the obligatory donate button.
Electoral Votes: West Virginia (5) It’s an app that affirms everything you may or may not believe in. It’s really just boring stump material.

App Name: Romney-Ryan
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free
What It Does: How do you like your campaign propaganda? Meaty Republican? If you answered yes to that then this is the app for you. Get the latest biased news and tips from the Romney campaign’s own app. It’s pretty basic in its intent and offers news on events and schedules. It also has some features like issues and of course, the obligatory donate button.
Electoral Votes: West Virginia (5) It’s an app that affirms everything you may or may not believe in. It’s really just boring stump material.

App Name: The Washington Post
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free
What It Does: Just like the New York Times app, this one is a great source for The Washington Posts in-depth news and politics. The major selling point is that unlike the Times, they offer their content free with somewhat obtrusive ads at the bottom. Their politics section is robust and everything added up makes it a general worthwhile news app.
Electoral Votes: Texas (38) Their content is great and free, but the ads do somewhat detract from the overall experience.

App Name: Obama vs. Romney: Fight for the Whitehouse
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free with ads or $0.99
What It Does: If you’ve ever wanted to punch either candidate, then this is the app for you. Choose either Romney or Obama, and punch away. There is an option to block, but that’s boring so just punch away. There’s nothing else to it really. The ads are inconveniently placed at the bottom where the buttons to punch and block are, so inadvertently hitting a Walgreens ad can direct you to their website.
Electoral Votes: Alaska (3) Repetitive and basic, this app is worth it for the quick download, but it’ll soon be erased from your smartphone after the novelty has worn thin.

App Name: Show of Hands
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free
What It Does: Show of Hands is a basic question and answer polling app. They crowd-source their results and give a basic rundown of how people are answering. The process is entirely unscientific but the results are fun to peruse and the questions are fun to answer. You can give extremely detailed information about yourself to enhance their metrics but that is all entirely optional.
Electoral Votes: Florida (29) The app is a fun time and the metrics make for some compelling research.

App Name: PolitiFact’s Settle It!
Version: iOS and Android
Price: Free
What It Does: When politicians throw around facts they often distort them to suit their needs. PolitiFact has been the go-to organization to provide background and truth on many of their erroneous claims. The app itself has a great search feature and gives the results in an easily navigable menu. There is also the option to save past facts checked to throw in the face of your favorite political opponent.
Electoral Votes: California (55) There is nothing better than showing facts to factually opposed people. This app provides that thrill in spades.