Proving that virtually owning the Internet isn't big enough for Google, the dominant search engine is taking over the 2012 elections.
Starting with the Iowa caucuses, Google is launching a new website, Google Elections, that will be among the first to report results and trends in caucus voting with real-time updates and videos from the caucus sites. [See a slide show of the top 10 most hated news commentators.]
What started out as a joint venture between Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Google and AARP to outfit the Polk County Convention Complex media center in Des Moines has almost become a space-aged high-tech center for reporters and campaigns to collect info and get it to supporters instantly.
"We thought there was no place more appropriate to launch the platform than at the beginning of the campaign trail in Iowa," said Google spokeswoman Samantha Smith. [See Five Ways New Media is Changing Politics.]
State party advisor Doug Heye reports that the technical innovations set up by Google at the convention center facility are eye-popping. "This is the new reality," he said while describing how the facility's treadmills can charge reporters' laptops as they run or how those less energetic can nosh at the coffee shop and diner in the "Google Hangout."
Google first tested their tricked-out media center during last fall's Fox News debate with the GOP candidates. The Des Moines filing center and website will include heat maps to show how candidates are doing in caucus voting around the state.
The media center and Google Hangout have attracted many party big shots and will be jammed Tuesday with candidate surrogates ready to spin reporters. It's not just Republicans: former Democratic Party official Donna Brazile passed through today. Also, local officials like Strawn have been broadcasting interviews from the site. He's won rave reviews from Republican insiders for his strong television performances leading up to the caucus.
The website includes real-time results, maps and videos filed by the campaigns, along with special features for reporters and campaign managers. It also contains a trend graph for each candidate, giving users an idea of which candidate is peaking by the hour.The site also aggregates the top political stories from major news sites.
"Social media and the internet are really defining the election," said a Google official.