So here we are, a few hours and counting down to what will be the first test of online national campaign coverage.
Iowa Public Radio and WNYC in New York are joining forces for live, two-hour coverage, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.
While most major news outlets are likely to be reporting returns as the Associated Press feeds them, the can’t-wait generation can look elsewhere for live updates. Townhall.com is trying an experiment in live coverage by the public, asking readers to Twitter, email or text message insider reports of last-minute efforts before polls open.
Townhall will be aggregating the information on its Twitter feed, IowaCaucus. Twitter members who’ve said they’ll be live-tweeting or sending in early return results include podcastmama, thepunk and smalleraperture.
Cody Marx Bailey, who’s in College Station, Texas, has built a Google map, where he plans to post live return information.
It’s been estimated that only 100,000 Iowans will help determine the front-runners for the presidential election. In years past, when there was some time between Iowa and the New Hampshire primary, the Iowa caucus acted as a leading indicator, letting the public know how those in rural states might vote, and letting campaign donors know who to throw their money behind.
With the Wyoming Republican primary on Jan. 5, and the New Hampshire primaries on Jan. 8, Iowa may not have as much pull. Nevertheless, tradition dictates we pay attention. Good luck to the candidates and to those pulling together online coverage.
*Update: In addition to the pretty cool interactive primary tracker described last month, LATimes.com has the names of the top five candidates floating in a so-called vote cloud on their homepage. The returns data comes straight from AP, but it’s a nice way of visualizing it.