This has been one hell of an election, and at Daily Kos, we have one hell of a team covering it. But we almost have an embarrassment of riches, because there’s so much great elections-related content on this site that it’s not always obvious where to find it all. That's why we decided to completely relaunch Daily Kos Elections, so that we could unite all of our fantastic analysis and data in one place, giving our community better tools to understand—and impact—races at all levels.
This is the biggest change to the site since the launch of DK5 last year, and the first time we’ve ever been able to give such prominence to our elections coverage. But while Daily Kos had grown and changed dramatically in the 14 (!) years since its founding, it began life, first and foremost, as an elections site. That core focus still pulses at the heart of this community, so it only makes sense that we’re giving the topic pride of place.
The relaunch is just around the corner, and we're really excited about what’s coming, so we wanted to give you all a sneak preview of what to expect. One thing we want to emphasize before proceeding, though, is that this is a phased rollout. That means that the features you see at launch (and in this diary) do not represent the complete feature set that we have in the works. We’ll talk more about what’s coming below, but we wanted to be crystal clear that there is more to come than you’ll see below.
And here’s something else: The revamped Daily Kos Elections will scale to the size of whatever browser you're using to look at it, from desktop with giant screens all the way down to mobile devices of every kind. You’ll be able to keep up with the latest elections news and forecasts from anywhere. (Here’s a teeny sample of what the top of the new Elections home page will look like, courtesy of my iPhone 6. Every feature you see below will also be replicated on mobile.)
Okay, let’s get to it!
We’ll start with the feature that you’ll soon encounter at the top of the Daily Kos home page and on almost every other page on the site as well: Our at-a-glance “ticker” that will keep you informed about the most important election news—in particular, who’s gonna win?
Here’s what the ticker will look like (note: all figures reflect test data only, not actual projections):
On the left, you’ll see a headline that links to our top elections story, handpicked by our editorial team to reflect whatever’s most important that day. This will rotate regularly.
In the center, you’ll find our presidential forecast, which runs off a model created by data scientist Drew Linzer. Drew’s model uses polling data and historical factors to simulate the presidential election thousands of times, then combines those simulations to tell us what the most likely outcome is. Toward the left, it shows us both how many electoral votes we expect Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to win. On the right, under “Win Probability,” we see what the likelihood (expressed in percentage terms) of a Clinton victory is. That percentage is also graphed over time, so that you can see the ebb and flow of the race.
To the right is a very similar set of data, except this section is focused on the battle for the Senate. Drew’s model uses polls to simulate each Senate election many times, then adds them all up to see how many seats Democrats and Republicans each wind up with (including seats not up this cycle). Here, the Win Probability is not for any individual Senate race but rather what chance Democrats have of winning enough seats to take back the majority. (To simplify matters, in the event of a 50-50 Senate, we’re awarding control to the Democrats, since—spoiler alert!—our model expects Hillary Clinton to win, so Tim Kaine would break ties.)
Click anywhere on the ticker and you’ll be taken to the completely overhauled, new, and improved Daily Kos Elections home page, which sits at elections.dailykos.com. This is what it’ll look like at the start (scroll for a bit; this next image is tall):
Let’s break down each section of the page. Across the very top, just below the orange bar and to the left, you currently see the words “Daily Kos Elections.” That will develop into a full-blown navigational tool as we roll out other parts of our feature set. At the right is a big fat “Donate” button which will take you to our special page for endorsed candidates, which will look like this. (There’s more on endorsements below.)
Moving down just a bit, you’ll see a slightly different version of the ticker, but instead of the top elections story (which has been moved into a place of prominence just below and to the left), you’ll also see our gubernatorial forecast. There, Drew’s third model again uses polls to determine how many governorships Democrats and Republicans will each win, and how many total we expect each party to end up with in November (including seats that aren’t up this year).
In the near future, clicking in each of these three sections will take you to our “outlook” pages, where you can find much more detailed forecasts for the presidency, Senate, and governors races. And from those pages, you’ll be able to drill down even further to pages for each individual race (and for the presidential contest, each state), with a wealth of information on each, including all recent polls. All of that is coming soon, but we’re so eager to get this out there to you that we wanted to launch now.
Beneath this ticker, the page is divided into two columns. On the left, you’ll find editorial content; on the right, forecasts and race ratings. Starting on the left, you’ll see our top story, the same one that’s in the ticker. It’ll change whenever the story in the ticker does. It’s a regular blog post, so click here and you can access the full story and comments.
Just below that is a permanent link to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, which is our liveblog of all of the major developments in every key downballot race across the country each day. So if you’re especially interested in Senate, House, and gubernatorial races, the Live Digest is for you. That, too, is a blog post, so you can participate in comments as we cover the day’s news.
Beneath that is a section called “Elections Blog — Recent Stories.” This is a condensed version of the content that currently appears at election.dailykos.com. There you’ll find all of the election-related stories written by the Daily Kos editorial team, from the presidency on down. Click any story there and you’ll get taken right to it. And if you are fond of the way that Daily Kos Elections currently looks, clicking the header there will take you to what will soon be the “old” version of the site (what you currently see at http://www.dailykos.com/blogs/elections/).
Below that is a feature we are particularly pleased to (re-)introduce, “Community Stories.” This section will feature elections-related posts written by community members, a feature that used to be known as “Related Diaries.” That temporarily went away with the launch of DK5 last year, but now it’s back! All you have to do is tag your story with a special tag, “DKECommunity,” and it’ll appear there. So if you write something that’s particularly focused on an electoral topic and you want your fellow election nerds to see it, just use the tag.
Keep scrolling and the next thing you’ll find is a signup form for the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest. This is a newsletter we both post on the site and send out by email every weekday at 8 AM ET. Every evening, we take the contents of the Live Digest, reorganize it, spruce it up a bit, and voila, Morning Digest! It’s a must-read for election junkies and campaign professionals alike (we have 70,000 folks on our email list), and if you want to sign up for it now, you certainly can! Just click here.
Under the signup box is something else we are extremely glad to bring back: Our list of links to the awesome data resources compiled by the elections team, which used to live in the Daily Kos Elections sidebar in the late, lamented blogroll. But now you have ready access to things like our 2016 primary calendar, presidential election results by congressional district, maps of state legislative districts, and much, much more to warm the cockles of any election geek's heart.
And at the bottom, spanning the width of the page, you’ll find photos of all of the candidates Daily Kos has endorsed. Clicking on each of these will bring you to special new pages we’ve created on our site that contain information about each candidate and also give you the opportunity to donate to each one (powered by ActBlue). Here’s an example of what one of these pages will look like.
And okay, one more thing before we switch columns: Way, way at the very bottom, in the right-hand corner, you’ll see a link to our methodology page. This is where the most hardcore of the hardcore will want to explore, because it’s there that we explain how Drew’s forecast models and the Daily Kos Elections race ratings work. (These are two separate ways of analyzing elections and predicting their results, and we rely on both of them. Why two? The methodology statement explains!)
Alright, let’s zoom back to the top. What you’ll see prominently at the top of the right-hand column is Hillary Clinton’s win probability. This is the same information contained in the site-wide ticker. You’ll also see a larger, more detailed chart of how Clinton’s win probability has shifted over time. (Yep, the chart says “Senate seat forecast,” but you’ll note that it’s a placeholder. It’ll properly reflect the presidential race when we go live.)
Under that is a table listing both candidates’ win probability for each state, plus the District of Columbia. Right now, we’re listing every state alphabetically, but in the future, you’ll be able to sort based on win probability (in other words, to rank states from “most likely to go blue” to “most likely to go red”).
But soon, we’ll be adding much more to the right-hand column. We’re going to truncate the default display to swing states only and, beneath that, add similar features for the Senate and governors races. That way, you’ll be able to see the individual probabilities for specific Senate seats and gubernatorial contests, and for the Senate, you’ll also see a detailed graph of win probability over time as well. (Since there’s nothing inherently special about winning a majority of governorships, we only deal with each gubernatorial race individually.) And while you can’t do so now, you’ll also be able to click each state to get to individual race pages, as described above.
And what’s even more awesome is that our amazing team of developers (Andy, Anne, Bram, Brandon, Elaine, Glenn, Jason, Sandro, and Wai Lee) have been laying down some really, really good “bones” in order to build all this—a tech infrastructure that opens up whole new possibilities for the future. Eventually, for instance, you’ll be able to embed all sorts of content into your own posts on the site, like, say, a chart of all polls in the Pennsylvania Senate race. And we have a million more cool ideas that we want to implement down the road.
But for now, we want to hear from you. Please let us know what you think, and ask us any questions that you have. And if you have any suggestions for us, we’d love to hear those as well. And as for “When will this launch?” The answer, as always, is “soon.” But we didn’t go through all this effort just to deploy this on Nov. 6, so in this case, “soon” really is “soon.” We can hardly wait—and we hope you wind up loving it as much as we do.