Super Tuesday has cable news networks and newspapers, political blogs and social media pundits pulling out all the stops. But what will be the go-to destinations when GOP votes start trickling in from 10 states?
NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox will all cut into primetime broadcasts with live updates; on top of that, NBC will also air a one-hour special at 10 p.m. ET.
All of the cable news networks will offer hours of live coverage, as will news website turned mini-network Politico. Even the New York Times will stream a combination of live and taped videos on its website to complement its reporting on primaries from Vermont to Alaska.
None of this will decide Barack Obama’s next opponent, mind you. For that, you’ll have to wait a few weeks, or even months, but Tuesday may finally, maybe, sort of, determine who is in the driver’s seat.
Read on to find out where to go for the best graphics, political minutiae and spin as the polls close.
For graphics wizardry: CNN (especially John King)
Have you ever seen John King play with his "Magic Election Wall?" If not, get strapped in. Every time there is a primary, King goes gaga for this wall of touch screens, comparing this year’s results to those four years ago — and everything in between. If you want to know all about the smallest county in Ohio, King has you covered. Want to know how Newt Gingrich is doing with women? King will tell you. It’s very easy to mock, but also very easy to love.
The network begins its wall-to-wall coverage at 7 p.m. ET and is scheduled to continue until 1 a.m. ET, when Anderson Cooper will take over for a special edition of "AC 360."
MSNBC opts for more verbal analysis and less gadgetry while Fox News is still getting into the touch screen groove. Bill Hemmer will take that charge Tuesday, but King has a four-year head start.
If you want to play it straight: Fox News
Say what you will about Fox and its conservative audience, but this is a GOP race and Fox is going live for seven hours, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET. Unlike MSNBC, Fox treats this less like a comedy of errors and more like an actual political contest. They also have some of the most respected Republican journalists and strategists as guests on their network – from Karl Rove to Brit Hume.
For left-wing condescension: MSNBC
Know who is happiest about this Republican field? The left. Whether you look at last week’s cover of New York magazine – “GOPocalypse” – or listen in to left-wing radio hosts, liberals are chomping at the bit to talk about these prospective presidential nominees.
Tune into MSNBC for dismissive disdain of the candidates’ viability. Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton will be anchoring the network’s coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The best of the bunch — Maddow and Chris Matthews — are less blustery and offer more substance than some of their counterparts.
But if you listen for a few minutes, you will likely hear derision of the candidates and their positions (some subtle, some not).
To answer the question WWKD: What Will Keith Do?
Remember that whole flap between Keith Olbermann and Current TV over election coverage? Well, Keith has control of the show and will command the network for three whole hours on Tuesday. His special "Super Tuesday Countdown" begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm – his prime-time bookends – will come before and after, but as those results come in, it will be all Keith all the time.
If you need your BriWi Fix: NBC, of course
While CBS airs "Unforgettable" NBC will air a special with Brian Williams in the anchor chair. David Gregory, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell will all contribute, as will assorted correspondents. Williams is considered the best anchor around for his mixture of charisma and reporting chops while Todd is one of the more respected White House reporters.
All the networks will cut into programming with updates, but only ratings-challenged NBC will take time out of its busy prime-time schedule to cover the primaries with any degree of depth. ABC will also stream four hours of live coverage, but online only.
If intermittent updates will do: Tune into "NCIS" or "The New Girl" as usual.
If things get interesting in Virginia, Ohio or North Dakota — or even Romney's home state of Massachusetts — you can always check out CNN, Fox News for more details.
If you’re a stats geek (like me): The New York Times (especially Nate Silver)
If you aren’t near a television, the New York Times has you covered on the graphics and numbers front. Its website has a great collection of maps and statistics paired with the newspaper’s written analysis. It even goes county by county on its voting maps – much like CNN. The paper credits its entire Graphics and Interactive News teams for election night efforts, and we tip our hat to them.
But we can’t help but note how much better the Times has gotten with its data crunching since Silver, the founder of the FiveThirtyEight blog, came aboard. He posts projections, analyzes polls and does all the numerical heavy lifting the rest of us are too dumb or lazy to do. Plus, if you want the more complex real-time numbers, you can just follow him on Twitter.
To know what the Romney insiders are thinking: Mike Murphy's Twitter account.
Murphy is a Republican consultant who has worked for political heavyweights like John McCain, Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and a certain Mormon candidate called Mitt Romney.
Though he disdains Romney’s current adviser – Stu Stevens – he also told Politico that “Mitt is a good friend and we stay in touch.”
Murphy's also a very active tweeter, lending bombast and insight during debates, during primary coverage, and pretty much all the time.
Other options: Alex Castellanos, another former Romney adviser and a CNN contributor. He’s just not as prolific on Twitter.
If you love "retweets": BuzzFeed
Editor-in-chief Ben Smith (formerly of Politico) has created a new ethos at the social media-focused site — mixing strong politics reporting without losing the cat video charm. Smith is also the main culprit behind a neverending onsalught of retweets. He retweets fellow reporters like McKay Coppins and Zeke Miller, and they all just keep on tweeting and tweeting — their stories, other people's stories, anything they can find. Sure, lots of people tweet, but when political news is brewing, BuzzFeed will blow up your news feed.
If you want to separate fact from fiction: Politifact
Politifact is a non-partisan fact-checking group owned and operated by the Tampa Bay Times. Back when it was called the St. Petersburg Times, the pair produced a Pulitzer Prize.
In the past few months, you could see if the candidates were truthful in the debates or if President Obama misled people in his State of the Union address.
On Tuesday, you can use this bullshit detector to ascertain whether the pundits are spinning and when the candidates are lying. The organization has partnered with NPR to check advertisements and social media as well.
Ratings range from “True” to “Pants on Fire,” so you can revisit that old fourth grade adage – “liar liar pants on fire” – while thinking about the next President.
Current leader: Mitt Romney. He gets a “Pants on Fire” rating.
If you're a junkie and not afraid to admit it: Politico
Sure, there’s Twitter. That remains the hub of breaking news, but for the real-time, horse race politics some crave, Politico is the destination. It covers almost every story it can dig up, from the revelatory and insightful to the inane. Consider this list of jokes about Mitt Romney’s dog, for example.
The site’s reporters write quickly, tweet often and have the perspective to provide instant analysis. One quibble: With its steadfast focus on the day-to-day, often ignoring the big picture. But on Super Tuesday, everyone will succumb to that.
Also read: D.C. Drama Has Been Very Good for Politico
And, in case you missed it, Politico has been investing more and more in online video. It will air a live results show hosted by executive editor Jim Vandehei and top reporters Maggie Haberman and Mike Allen. It will air on C-SPAN. So like we said, you have to be committed.
Or perhaps you'd prefer: The National Journal.
The Journal has has a lot of well-respected journalists (and a partnership with CBS News). Once it has a network, we're 100 percent onboard.
If you're in the mood for Hollywood snark: Albert Brooks and Patton Oswalt
There are plenty of journalists on the left and right worth following, but if you want to have some fun during Super Tuesday, check out these two accounts. Oswalt has live-tweeted many of the GOP debates while Brooks contributes succinct gems like “Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. Where ordinary politicians can bullshit at the speed of sound,” and, “If I were advising Romney I would tell him to stop bragging about the Olympics and just come to these debates on skis.”
And if you're just in the mood for snark: Kim-Jong Un.
What better way to celebrate our impending election than reading the latest tweets from a North Korean dictator?