I keep hearing on the news about other states' primaries and caucuses. I know it's for the President, but what's the big deal? We don't vote until November, right? What's the difference between a caucus and a primary? What happens if you don't win them? Does Massachusetts have one? And I keep hearing good and bad things about all the candidates - who is winning?
I love easy questions like this.
I knew the Massachusetts primary is coming up, so the first thing I wanted to do is search the state's website for information on that. While doing that, I tried to give a brief description of the whole primary/caucus system: candidates win delegates in each state, who then cast votes in the party conventions to decide who actually runs for President...
By this time I had found a few Massachusetts resources:
- MA Elections Division, which listed the primary's date (Feb. 5th), as well as lots of information on both state- and national-level elections
- The Voting Process website, which explained how to register, how to apply for an absentee ballot, what do to and where to go on election day, and more
At this point, the patron confessed that she was far more interested in who was winning than in how the process itself worked. A website I found a few weeks ago is perfect to answer this: CNN Election Center 2008.
I like this website for the same reason I don't like USAToday - it breaks everything down into easy to understand chunks, and does so with lots of colors and graphs. It lists who has won each primary/caucus so far, and how many delegates each candidate has earned.
It also explains the major issues and where each candidate stands, has an easy-to-use calendar for upcoming primaries and caucuses, shows which candidates have dropped out, how much money each candidate has raised and spent, and more.
All in all, it seems like a fairly complete election coverage source. And it satisfied the patron (actually, it outright delighted her to see Ron Paul has won more delegates than Rudy Giuliani even though Giuliani has spent $30.6 million to Paul's $2.8 million). She wrote down the url and promised to read more about the issues before Feb. 5th.
I was curious, though - even though I think CNN is a reliable source, I also wanted to see what other election coverage and resources were available. I spent some time searching, and here's what I came up with, broken down by type:
Election News Coverage:
- CNN: Election Center 2008
- New York Times: Presidential Election of 2008
- National Public Radio: Election 2008
- Yahoo!News: 2008 Presidential Election
- Federal Election Commission: Presidential Campaign Finance
- The Huffington Post: FundRace 2008
- OpenSecrets.org: 2008 Presidential Election
- America.gov: Guide to the 2008 Elections
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: 2008 Election & Electoral College Information
- Federal Voting Assistance Program: Absentee Voting for Military & Overseas Citizens
- BBC News: How American Elections Work (another favorite of mine)
- Wikipedia: 2008 Presidential Election Article (including candidates, parties, electoral votes by state, and contemporary influences)
- Project Vote Smart
- Who is Who 2008 Elections
Political Parties and National Conventions:
- Democratic Party: Website - National Convention
- Republican Party: Website - National Convention
- Libertarian Party: Website - National Convention
- Green Party: Website - National Convention
- Constitution Party: Website - National Convention
- Wikipedia: List of Political Parties in the U.S.
I didn't bother linking directly to each candidates' website, because many of the sites above do that. In fact, since they're all reporting on the same thing, most of the information on these sites is duplicated. I guess the point is to pick at least one resource you trust and stay informed.