TheWrap’s 2012 Election Guide to the Best Charts, Snark and Old-Fashioneds

Ignore cable news except for CNN, check in on NBC, and tweet tweet tweet

Tonight may be the closest election since George Bush beat Al Gore by a few chads, but voters will have to sort through far more noise than they did 12 years ago.

Among the burning questions: Who will win Ohio, and likely the presidency? Which party will control the Senate? And will California require the use of condoms in porn?

As you sort through radio and television broadcasts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, live blogs, Storifys, YouTube clips and a barrage of other sources, we offer the following tips for how to cut through the clutter. Here’s TheWrap's multi-stop election viewing guide for patriots and porn stars everywhere.

Where to Go for Flying Chyrons and Data Wonks: CNN. CNN trails cable news compatriots Fox and MSNBC in terms of ratings, but the network has resisted calls to succumb to partisan bloviating. Instead, it has pointed to its success on the big nights, when it offers a thrilling array of graphics and data.

With wonk-in-residence John King manning the electoral map alongside Wolf Blitzer, viewers can find out how their candidate is faring county-by-county, with insights like what areas are hit by particular legislation or are filled with college students. CNN will also hear from workers at specific voting centers, as CNN dispatched five reporters to Ohio alone.

Where to go for old-fashioned news coverage: NBC. Old school enough to have a daughter on HBO’s “Girls,” but funny enough to hold his own on "The Daily Show," Brian Williams manages to be both authoritative and witty. And he’s the only anchor from a broadcast network that did the job four years ago.

Tom Brokaw gives NBC another advantage: At 72, he's silver fox celebrated for palpable gravitas and patriotism.

Avoid: The rest of cable news. On a normal day, Ed Schultz and Sean Hannity frothing at the mouth make for great entertainment. When there's real news, their blathering provides a national disservice.

MSNBC has been blindly partisan in the months leading up to the election, turning even Chris Matthews into a strident defender of the president against all opposition. Rachel Maddow — a gifted host but one whose job is advocating "progressive" politics — will anchor coverage.

Unlike MSNBC, Fox is at least feigning a veneer of credibility with its "news” anchors at the helm. Still, note that the least partisan of them all — Shepherd Smith — is anchoring on Fox’s broadcast network (not Fox News).

If you want comedy, go to Twitter or Comedy Central. If you need another reason to avoid partisan cable news, I have two, er, three words: Fox's Sarah Palin.

Where to go for accuracy: Associated Press. Remember 2000. While the vast majority of Americans watched election results on television, all three of the broadcast networks failed them in 2000. They called Florida for Al Gore, only to reverse themselves hours later and then prematurely hand Bush the election.

"We don't just have egg on our face," Brokaw said at the time. "We have an omelette."

Unlike the networks, stalwart AP waited to declare a winner until there finally was one.

Where to go for your election discount: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The nation’s two most popular newspapers are tearing down their paywalls for election night. The Journal has a particularly restrictive barrier, making it one of the few success stories in charging for online journalism.

So while free politics-focused sites like Politico and The Hill have their appeal, take this opportunity to binge on typically costly content while you can get it. An all you cat eat smorgasbord of nerd-turned-national controversy Nate Silver? Thank you, I'll take my data with a side of alleged liberal bias.

Where to go for a live blog: Twitter. Liveblogging and Storifying is like crack to many modern reporters, but on election night what need is there for any of it? For anyone who wants a live feed of results, opinion and humor, Twitter provides it all. TheWrap has already offered you a list of 20 people to follow for the election, so your Tuesday night liveblog should be planned already.

And for those who aren’t on Twitter…why would you want a liveblog?


Where to go for a little more depth: Real Clear Politics. Still a great source for coverage from all sides of the political spectrum, offering stories from national and local outlets.

Where to go if you hate capitalism: PBS and NPR. Advertisements, who need's em? We'll take the soothing tones of Judy Woodruff (pictured above) and Gwen Ifill without commercial interruption.

Where to go if you’re a hipster: Vice. If you wear lots of flannel, drink old fashioneds and have that far-left, passionately disillusioned vibe going for you, you’re not about to tune into CBS. MTV has abandoned you for tweeners while Vice offers good writing, professional-looking video and plenty of self-satisfied snark.