The national conventions are less than a month away, Election Day is less than 90 days away, and the presidential race is still too close to call. So if you haven't been keeping up with the presidential campaigns, now might be the time to start. And in today's mobile world, the easiest place to start may be on your phone.
For 2012, there is a slew of smartphone apps, including ones from each presidential campaign. Any number of apps provide news coverage, so this list focuses on those that take their users a step further into the political arena.
Here's a roundup of the apps political junkies should consider downloading ahead of the home stretch of this election year:
-Obama for America – the Obama campaign's app is all about grassroots organizing. It maps out registered Democrats near your address (which has raised some privacy concerns), when and where the nearest Obama-related events will take place, and lets users sign up to donate or volunteer for the campaign. (Free for iPhone)
-Mitt's VP – the purpose of the Romney campaign's app is pretty clear – users are promised to be the first to find out who Romney's vice presidential nominee will be. It's the campaign's second app. The first, With Mitt, initially featured an unfortunate spelling error. (Free for iPhone and Android)
-OpenStates – This app from the nonprofit watchdog group lets you track any and all action going on in state legislatures. Find your state legislator and follow particular bills, legislators, or issues in all 50 states. (Free for iPhone)
-Polltracker– Political website Talking Points Memo's app provides updated data on political polls for races across the country. (Free for iPhone)
-Dollarocracy – From the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog, Dollarocracy allows users to investigate the money in politics. The app compiles lists of top donors, industries, and locations giving money to politicians, interest groups, and political races. (Free for iPhone)
-Politifact – This mobile "Truth-O-Meter" fact-checks politicians and pundits. The app also groups trending issues and sorts its rulings by subject and people. ($1.99 for iPhone and Android)
-Congress+ - This app contains extensive information about representatives in Congress, including each member's contact info, legislative activity, mini-biography, and prospects for re-election. ($0.99 for a lite version, $4.99 for full; both for iPhone)
-NPR News – National Public Radio lets users read news articles and listen to NPR stations across the country, live or on demand by program. With hundreds of affiliates nationwide, it provides local and national news coverage from just about everywhere. (Free for iPhone and Android)
-C-SPAN Radio - Another radio-oriented app, but this one allows users to listen in on Congressional hearings and as well as political analysis and lectures. (Free for iPhone and Android)
-Super PAC App – expected to be released before the Republican National Convention later this month, this app plans to allow users to point their phone towards a political commercial and instantly find out the group behind it.
Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News & World Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.