Fun Friday Make-up Exam: Election Addiction
My last post was a lame cop-out, so here's what I had planned to write about: Elections A Go-Go!
My friends, you may need to stage an intervention. I am reading and listening to little other than election coverage, and almost every single other person I know is in the grip of a similar mania. When SNL is creating midweek specials on the election (fueled in equal parts, I believe, of the following: wanting to capitalize on Tina Fey's unimpeachably perfect impression of Sarah Palin; wanting to leverage the popularity of said impression into a ratings boost for Fey's show, 30 Rock; and wanting to make the most of the awesome chemistry between Weekend Update's Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers before Poehler went on maternity leave after giving birth to her son, Archie Arnett -- if you're reading this, congratulations, Amy & Will!), when you can view a really well-edited Obama vs. McCain dance-off (which I will not spoil for you -- it's work-safe, so click away), and when Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert's respective shows are pulling down better ratings than they ever have before, you know an election isn't just an election. It's a Pop Culture Event.
I know you didn't need me to tell you that. I'm just indulging in a little rhetorical flourish.
I'm curious about what libraries around the country are doing about the elections -- Presidential, Congressional, and local -- for their communities. At my school, the senior high library is one of the locations where students, faculty, and staff can purchase McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden t-shirts, so we have a display case decorated with sample shirts, along with student-produced information on the candidates and red, white, and blue decor of various types. We're holding a mock debate later this week, and I created a wiki for one of our Sociology teachers for her and her students to use in conjunction with a poster assignment she gave them for this week.
It's really all about the Presidential election at my school -- here in NJ, incumbent Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg is presently up by an average of 17.4% (you'll have to scroll pretty far down to see the NJ polls, but all Senate races are included there!) -- but your community may be more focused on a state or local election.
I hope you'll leave some information about and links to whatever your library is doing to celebrate Election Day. Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite resources, which tend towards blue & purple:
FiveThirtyEight.com -- this is probably my favorite site right now. I check it several times a day, because it's updated so frequently. Nate Silver, statistical wunderkind, breaks down, analyzes, and explains in plain English what frequently conflicting poll results actually mean. He's an Obama supporter, but this is a site about numbers, not about policy. While most of the site's coverage is specific to the Presidential election and how it will play out in the Electoral College, Silver & his team also offer comprehensive coverage of all of the Senate race polls, too.
The Christian Science Monitor's Patchwork Nation -- this project bills itself as "The American voter beyond red and blue, and how you fit in." You can take a survey to see how well you match your county's community type (there are 13 types, and each is represented by a blog written by a community member), follow project director Dante Chinni's blog, and evaluate the project's statistical methodology.
The Cheat Sheet from The Daily Beast -- I am not exactly cutting-edge these days, so I'll cop to not having heard of The Daily Beast -- Tina Brown's latest venture -- until Christopher Buckley's Obama endorsement in its pages got him kicked out of the National Review. Now that I have found it, though, I am a big fan. I love the variety of opinion, I love the intelligent irreverence, and I love love looove The Cheat Sheet, which is kind of a political Buzzfeed.
Campaign Stops -- This NY Times blog is written in the form of conversations between Gail Collins and David Brooks, two of my favorite columnists. I cannot wait for Brooks to publish another book. His 2005 book, On Paradise Drive, is one of my favorite works of popular sociology of the past 5 years.
This American Life -- Ira Glass & Company have been doing some truly stellar reporting lately on both the election & the economy. Great stuff!
My favorite historical perspective on elections & presidents & American political thought in general comes from Sarah Vowell, whose interview on this week's Studio 360 was, unsurprisingly, as illuminating as it was delightful.