The best place to start is at each candidate’s website: Use the candidate’s name followed by .com (not .gov as I anticipated). You don’t have to enter your email address if you don’t want updates; just click “Enter the Website” or “Continue.” Read updates from the campaign trail, choose to follow them via Facebook or Twitter and, if you’re inspired, you can make a donation or volunteer. Learn about their stances on topics that are important to you so you can make a more informed decision at the polls.
If you’re one of the more than 900 million people who regularly log on to Facebook, consider following your candidate of choice, or both if you’re undecided, by “liking” their page. You’ll get regular updates posted to your newsfeed and have the opportunity to join the debate among the more than 26 million following President Barack Obama or roughly 2 million following former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. You can even personally message the candidates — I’d love to hear if you get a reply!
Should you prefer an alternate social media venue to stay connected, each candidate maintains a presence on Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. As Obama and Romney are, understandably, too busy to spend much time posting comments and updates, these pages are maintained by their campaign staff. Obama occasionally tweets, signing his personal updates with “–BO.” Each candidate has used Google+ to engage with followers via the Hangout function, a multi-user live chat that has been likened to a “modern-day incarnation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s historic Fireside Chats” by Alex Fitzpatrick via mashable.com.
YouTube allows the opposing camps to post videos describing where they stand on issues, motivating followers or bashing the other side’s position. You can also view ads if, like me, you use your DVR to skip them during your primetime TV watching.
Pinterest profiles are image-heavy and primarily focused on personal interest. For example, each candidate’s page maintains links to recipes. Romney’s page is run by his wife, Ann. This medium appears to be the candidate’s way to connect with constituents on a more day-to-day level, centering on family, personal lives and behind-the-scenes photos from the campaign trail.
When politics are involved, it’s difficult to tell fact from fiction when perusing the latest sound bites. Enter Politifact , a Pulitzer Prize-winning website run by the Tampa Bay Times. It claims to be your nonpartisan fact-checker when it comes to just about every public political statement out there. The “Truth-O-Meter” lets you browse by subject or truthfulness, from True to “Pants on Fire,” with links supporting their judgment of accuracy. The mobile application lets you track the progress of the campaign, even after it’s over, to see if the winner follows through on his promises once elected.
If you spend more time on your smartphone than your computer, Pulse allows you to set up a custom reading list of RSS feeds, from news sites like Fox News or The Wall Street Journal, to your favorite blogs. Politico delivers late-breaking headlines, analysis and opinions about the 2012 elections to your mobile device. You can even download content to your phone, in case your connection’s sketchy.