More than ever, the online and mobile offerings aren't merely supplementary to Tuesday night's TV viewing, but can function as primary sources for following the election results.
The 2008 presidential election, when Web traffic reached record levels, was something of a coming-out party for the Internet. The Web's encore came at the Inauguration, when streaming video had its most dramatic day up to that point. The 2010 midterm elections, as experienced online, aren't likely to provide the same technological turning point. But two years later, the Web-savvy coverage of Tuesday's election highlights the growing sophistication of interactive media, social media and mobile apps.
ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, The New York Times and even PBS are all offering live webcasts Tuesday night. New media partnerships helped pave the way: ABC News with Facebook; CBS with Google; and NBC is embedding their video coverage on Twitter. News organizations are putting a particular focus on getting election results straight to users on their mobile phones with apps that can give users specific results to their local elections.
Customization is often much of the draw of the multimedia offerings. CNN, for example, offers something called "My Election," which allows users to select up to 15 specific races they're following.
Meanwhile, social media destinations such as Facebook and Twitter used their power to get out the vote.
Atop Facebook pages was a reminder that Tuesday was Election Day. A link was provided to help people find their polling place, and a running ticker counted the number of people on Facebook who clicked that they had voted. The fast-rising number was more than 4.5 million as of early afternoon Tuesday.
Conversation on the election dominated Twitter, which was still relatively nascent during the 2008 election. The Times' website, which boasted extensive election coverage, attempted to diagram the dialogue on Twitter with an interactive feature showing which candidates were the most tweeted.
The Onion added comedy to the running commentary, posting Election Day tips, such as: "Young people should heed their civic duty and RockTheVote. Older Americans are advised to smooth jazz the vote."
The most popular video online, according to Viral Video Chart, was "I Remember," an anti-Republican ad paid for by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund. It was viewed more than 265,000 times.