After all the huffing, puffing, canvassing, and hand-wringing, the 2018 midterm elections are nearly here. Now it’s time to hunker down and prep for election night, leaving just one question: how can we make it through our first post-Trump national election without losing our sanity?
We’re still suffering from New York Times needle-related flashbacks thanks to that tense November night two years ago, and things certainly haven’t calmed down in the time since. (FWIW, the needle will, reportedly, make a comeback this year.)
Still it’s possible to stay on top of midterm election results without your brain melting. Given that we’re constantly bombarded with news via every social platform, it’s naturally going to be a challenge. But, again, it is possible with just a little curation. Here’s who we suggest following:
Yes, Nate Silver’s site faced criticism over its forecast of the 2016 election but that criticism was misplaced, exposing a failure to read deeper into its methodology and reporting (in the days before the election, it was noted how Silver actually gave Trump a bigger chance than most of winning). If you take the time to dig into what the site offers, you’ll find sober yet engaging journalism that thoroughly explains its forecast, doesn’t pull punches, and doesn’t favor one side over the other.
If you can keep a level head about you — which I know is asking a lot in a time fraught with political tension — FiveThirtyEight is a vital source of information that uses hard data for its reporting, especially via its traditional live blog on election night.
PBS NewsHour, NPR, and C-SPAN
Speaking of keeping a level head, the public broadcasting outlets offer invaluable coverage that eschew the breathless talking head panels for balanced reporting and updates. Stripping away the bells and whistles of cable news, both PBS NewsHour and NPR offer straight-forward news without needless distractions (examples include: interactive TV screens! holograms!) Good for keeping your blood pressure low as the night goes on.
C-SPAN will also provide coverage from around the country. It has a deep trove of past debates, interviews, and other clips on candidates and races around the country that are worth diving into in the days ahead of the election.
The Associated Press on Twitter
Okay, so you’ll want to know when the biggest races are called, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) rely on the dreaded Times needle. Same goes for the networks, which tend to have differing tallies. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by following only the Associated Press for called races via their main and politics Twitter accounts.
If you’re looking to nerd out a little bit about how exactly the AP calls races, the organization lays it all out in a terrific episode of their politics podcast, Ground Game.
Your state’s official tally
Okay, if you want to get OFFICIALLY official, turn off the news, turn up the music, and just refresh either your state’s Secretary of State or Board of Elections website, which offer the official count of voting tallies. They may lag a bit behind what the networks or even the AP say, but it’s the cold, hard numbers with nothing else to muddy the waters.
If you’re addicted to Twitter, creating a list is the best way to keep the signal-to-noise ratio at manageable levels. Whether you choose to add candidates, news sources, or elected officials, Twitter lists mean you control the news you see. By shutting out a lot of noise, you can stay focused on the results.
We’ve got a handy list right here of political journalists from dozens of verified organizations that can help you keep track of the breaking news developments.
If elected officials are more your thing, C-SPAN maintains terrific, comprehensive lists of both U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives. And they have their own political reporters list if you want even more information.
Finally, if you’re such a nervous wreck on election night that you can’t even turn off the news and just binge Netflix shows instead, maybe search for puppy videos on YouTube.
Zone out and just let the puppies relax you until you absolutely have to tune back in.