Blog Post

Where to Get Live Election Night Coverage Online

Update: We wrote a more extensive, updated guide to where to watch live election coverage.

The 2008 election and online video have had a lot of special moments together: The CNN-YouTube primary debates. Obama Girl.‘s “Yes We Can.” Saturday Night Live’s “Fey-lin” skits. And even though those examples might lean to the left, online video isn’t just a liberal thing. Both the Obama and McCain campaigns have active YouTube accounts, and in September, the McCain account had nearly three times as many average views per video as its rival’s. And no fewer than nine outlets offered live online video of the presidential debates.

But those were simply viral videos and two-hour events coming straight from the official debate stream. For election night, the fun starts early and could continue all night. There will be red and blue states to call, voter fraud to police, polling lines to record, partisan parties to tune into, and pundits, pundits, pundits. For those who want more detail, perspective or partisanship than TV broadcasts offer — or for the election-obsessive looking to build a multi-platform election night command center — we’ve sniffed out a few of the election night options to choose from.

Traditional media

Don’t trust the talking heads to do your election analysis? Try your hand at crunching the numbers. TV networks and newspapers will be offering frequently updated maps and data for your perusal online.

On Election Day, ABC News will offer livestreams of its own newscast, the scene at both the McCain and Obama campaigns’ headquarters, and a stream of roving reporters in battleground states. It will also offer a live results map, searchable exit polling data, liveblogging and results via SMS. CBS News will be offering county-by-county results updated every minute, liveblogging, as well as a simulcast of its TV coverage, starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Around 2 a.m. EDT, Katie Couric will host a live webcast on and to address participants’ questions.

There are also also plenty of tools on the cable networks’ sites. MSNBC in particular has a trove of tech tools, including blogger widgets. We really liked its vote tally interface-plus-live stream for the Super Tuesday primary, which displayed tons of information in one place.

The New York Times will also offer online video updates every half hour from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. EDT with reports from Times political correspondents. These days, the newspaper’s site is a powerhouse of infographics (and we don’t mean static USA Today pie charts), and it will continue to offer up interactive graphs and maps on election night.

Partisan punditry
If you’re looking for election-night coverage by and for people like you, there are plenty of sites to turn to. The left-leaning blog Talking Points Memo, for instance, has really thrived this election season, raking in a record 16.3 million YouTube video views in September. For its election night coverage, the site will be livestreaming (most likely using the cell phone-based service Qik) from Obama’s Chicago headquarters, and providing live election results via a map created in partnership with Google. It will also be liveblogging and posting TV news clips that it tapes from network TV. But political parties aren’t the only interest groups., for instance, will offer live video reporting focused on Latinos in both Spanish and English.

Whatever your political flavor, you can track hot stories and analysis in the blogosphere on Mememorandum, the political sister site of TechMeme. If you install the site’s cool Greasemonkey script, you can see a red and blue overlay on links, indicating stories from conservative and liberal bloggers, respectively. Memeorandum tells us it will be increasing the speed with which items rotate off its site so that the newest news and analysis can dominate as they change throughout election night.

Enticing the youth vote

Social networks have a special opportunity to tie this momentous political occasion into normal online activity, especially for young people. MySpace’s plans are still in the works, but it will most likely air a live stream of MSNBC’s coverage on its MySpace Decision08 page. That’ll come alongside a live-updating map, text and video blogging by the MySpace Impact team and celebrities, and user-generated video. MySpace set up its own live stream of the debates and pulled pretty impressive numbers: more than 500,000 live streams and 1.2 million unique visitors.

Facebook doesn’t offer live video, but the site plans to add a prominent prompt, asking users if they’ve voted yet. For those who cop to voting, Ben & Jerry’s will be offering free cones, and Facebook’s news feeds will tell users which of their friends have voted. Facebook says it sent in more than 50,000 voter registration applications from its members, and it has more than half a million people confirming that they will vote. The site is an Obama stronghold, with nearly 2.3 million members registered as his supporters at this writing, compared with slightly more than 600,000 for McCain.

Make your own media

PBS and YouTube are encouraging voters to make videos of their Election Day experiences, and maybe even catch some voter fraud while they’re at it. (Not that anyone’s rooting for that.) However, using cameras at polling places is illegal in some states, so be sure to check the laws where you live.

The Personal Democracy Forum’s techPresident is also pulling together a “Twitter Vote Report,” effectively a citizen-created national exit poll that combines “tweets” about users’ voting experiences into a cohesive interface. Twitter, the microblogging service that’s starting to hit the mainstream, is the new shorthand for citizen journalism, and it’s made its way onto C-SPAN, Current TV and CNN during this election cycle. Current aired some 3,000 tweets per debate, but it hasn’t (yet) announced any plans to display tweets alongside its election night coverage.

As long as you’re watching video coverage, parsing through online maps and graphs and posting reports on your own voting experience, why not turn on the radio too? It’s the original live broadcast. NPR, for one, plans to be on air (and on the web) from 8 p.m to 5 a.m. EDT, with more than 100 journalists reporting on the election.

Image credit: CNN.

18 Responses to “Where to Get Live Election Night Coverage Online”

  1. Andrew Scot

    The one not to miss:

    the BBC global broadcast, U.S. Election Night, which will air on the BBC America cable channel. Co-anchors David Dimbleby and Matt Frie will be joined in the studio by former ABC anchorman Ted Koppel for what the BBC calls “big-picture perspective and global analysis.”

    In addition to reaction to election results from the BBC’s worldwide team of correspondents, the program will include commentary and analysis from comedy writer Ricky Gervais ( The Office) and authors Gore Vidal and Christopher Hitchens. Talk about commentators willing to go where few others dare.

  2. My brother and I recently created a website ( that gathers links to live online events. Just wanted to let you know that the Associated Press will also be providing live webcast coverage on election day. Thanks!

  3. Livestation (

    During the election, Livestation viewers will be able to watch the action live, on their desktops, anywhere in the world, and chat in real time with other viewers as well as journalists and producers from our partner channels such as Riz Khan of Al Jazeera. Most of our partners are planning 12-hour TV specials, offering news, analysis and studio discussions as events unfold. Here are some of the highlights of the coverage on election night.
    Al Jazeera English is again particularly keen to gauge the mood of a global audience. As the drama of the election night unfolds, producers from Al Jazeera will be in the Livestation chat room gathering online reactions and feeding them directly back to the studio to be read out on air.
    BBC World News David Dimbleby, one of the BBC’s most experienced presenters will be hosting an election special along with Matt Frei, anchor of BBC World News America. They’ll be joined in the studio by veteran newsman Ted Koppel for big picture perspective and global analysis.
    euronews says it will be assessing the impact of the election from a European perspective and analysing how the outcome may influence the future relationship between Europe and America. The euronews coverage will be streamed in seven languages on Livestation.
    France 24 has set up studios at the foot of the Trocadéro, where the largest American election evening outside the United States is being organized by Republicans & Democrats Abroad.
    C-SPAN coverage will start at 14.00 GMT with an in-depth look at how the 2008 elections will impact the next Congress. C-SPAN will be taking the feeds from both campaigns’ HQs from Chicago and Phoenix. This will most likely be interspersed with behind-the-scenes coverage, a studio host with guests and viewer calls

  4. From Google:

    We’ll be providing a results map with feeds from the AP. On Election Day,
    people can also go to our 2008 Election
    site see county-by-county voting
    results since 1980 on Google Maps/Earth, and
    how the live results on Election Day match up. With the help of a time lapse
    bar, voters can also see how demographic voting patterns have changed over
    the past 28 years, giving them a historical perspective before they head to
    the polls. In addition, people can find out what other voters are searching
    for before voting with Hot
    Trends take a look
    back at what the candidates said with our index
    of quotes that goes back five years. Before
    voters cast their ballots, they can compare statements from the 2008
    campaigns to speeches given in 2004, or contrast candidates’ positions on
    specific issues.

  5. Actually, NPR’s live radio coverage will now begin at 7pm ET rather than 8pm. We’re also going to be tweeting all night @nprpolitics, and are participating in Twitter Vote Report project as well. Should make for a fun night.

  6. Next up, socialmedian!

    socialmedian’s election site,, aggregates news and user-feeds related to the 2008 election and to allow users to join in the election coverage and discussion. The site was created with to enable people to track all the election news from thousands of news sources as well as from Twitter feeds, Flickr photos, YouTube videos all in one place, and (importantly) to join-in and add their own feeds from their favorite sites and to provide user reports leading up to and on Election Day.

    In addition, socialmedian has launched Election Talk, an embeddable feed that allows users to participate in real-time election discussions anywhere, anytime. The widget is available on and on partner sites such as and UK’s By aggregating the content by most popular, rising fast and hot discussions categories, Election Talk helps users cut through the noise and ensure that the best information bubbles to the top.

  7. I was on a tight deadline for this story cause it was cross-posted on BusinessWeek, but people continue to get back to me.

    Here’s what The UpTake, a live-streaming network of correspondents is planning, from its executive director Jason Barnett:

    “We are going to be live-streaming from all over the country focused mostly on voter reaction and turnout. We’ll be covering voter irregularities and other similar stories from now until election day, and have some follow up stories after election day. Right now we have people in FL, OH, MI, MN, CO, Chicago, CA, NM and a few other locations covering these things. Most are equipped with live-streaming technologies and are able to report from anywhere.

    “Election night we’ll be reporting from Chicago, and Saint Paul, as well as have reports from all these other regions. We’re still working on securing other regions – as well as AZ.

    “We are partnering with a variety of organization to do this. If you want the full list let me know and I’ll try to put it together. Our plan is still growing from interest of other orgs as well as individuals so it’s a bit of a moving target.”