“What if it’s NOT a map?”
With this question we kicked off our first brainstorm on what would become our 2018 Election Night results app, which provided real-time U.S. House election results using the AP API.
While the common approach of using a map to show election results may still be the best for choice for some outlets like the New York Times or Washington Post, we wanted something that would differentiate us. Unlike those larger outlets that are the prime source for millions of viewers for most general elections, we wanted to capitalize on our niche, given our central focus on Congress and a long traditions of deep coverage on House races.
The result of that process was a visual table depicting both results and live analysis as the night unfolded. Day-after election stories often look at where they key gains or losses were: suburbs vs. rural, gender, race, and comparison to past results. By baking that data into our design ahead of time, we put the analytical capabilities into the users’ hands as the results started coming in.
Users start with a set of dots, divided horizontally by party incumbent and vertically by race ratings, as determined by Inside Politics. The dots became colored by winning party, first a light shade as soon as a party had the upper hand and then a darker shade when races were called. Safe Democrat seats predictably were all one by a Democrat, but on the ‘safe’ Republican side, there was one glaring outlier that jumped out when Kendra Horn, a Democrat beat the incumbent, Rep. Steve Russell.
With a click on the sort buttons, users can switch the basis for sorting, showing how the results break down by urban vs. rural districts or compared to Donald Trumps 2016 presidential election performance.
Filter buttons narrow the focus to districts that changed from one party’s control to the other and where woman won.