If you've been following the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, you know one thing: delegates mean everything.
But some states use complicated arithmetic to figure out which candidate won how many delegates, so it can be difficult to track each candidate's quest to gain the magic number of 1,144 to lock up the nomination before the Republican National Convention in late August.
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Rest easy, armchair campaign managers: the Internet's got your back. Mashable has found three websites with excellent interactive tools for keeping tabs on the all-important delegate race.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post's Republican Primary Tracker shows a simple bar graph illustrating the delegate race. It's sorted by total number of delegates earned in primaries and caucuses so far.
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The campaigns of Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry are crossed out, as they've both left the race -- although Huntsman managed to grab two delegates before doing so.
Underneath the bar graph, the tracker breaks down the delegate count by state. It shows the total number of delegates available in each state, how many were picked up by each candidate, and how the state allocates delegates.
By clicking an arrow next to "delegate allocation," visitors to the site are told about each state's delegate rules: are they winner-take-all? Are the delegates bound to candidates?
The allocation can get pretty hairy. Here are the rules in Georgia, for example: "31 delegates are allocated according to order of finish statewide for everyone over 20% of the vote. 42 delegates are awarded proportionally by congressional district (three per district) unless one candidate receives a majority of the vote, in which case they receive all of that district's three delegates. The other three delegates are the state's Republican officials."
But the really impressive feature on The Washington Post's site is its interactive tool:
A unique graph shows how many delegates have been snatched up so far and how many are left until the convention. It marks important dates such as Super Tuesday, and clearly shows that all-important number of 1,144. As a user drags his or her mouse across the graph, it shows which candidate won how many delegates in which states, as well as how many more delegates are up for grabs in upcoming primaries and caucuses.
The New York Times
The New York Times' Republican Delegate Tally has a pixel-inspired graph, with one pixel representing one delegate. Like the other graphs, it clearly shows the 1,144 mark and how many delegates are left to go: 1358, as of Thursday afternoon. There's a state-by-state breakdown with an explanation of the rules, too.
Unlike The Washington Post, but like the Republican Party, The New York Times' tracker has ditched Huntsman and Perry's campaigns altogether.
The New York Times also has a colorful, easy-to-read Primary Map. The colors clearly show which candidate brought home the most delegates in each state. Dragging a mouse cursor over each state reveals more information: The percentage of primary or caucus votes each candidate won in that state, how many delegates that translates to and, if a state has yet to vote, the date of its primary or caucus.
Politico's Delegate Tracker opens up with a clear, concise explanation of the nomination process. It follows with a bar graph, similar to the other publications. Candidates are sorted by delegates won so far, and there's a "finish line" showing the magic number of 1,144.
Politico chose to ditch Perry, but Huntsman remains: perhaps because he managed to grab a pair of delegates before dropping out of the race. Politico also has the state-by-state breakdown with neatly sorted data.
Where Politico's delegate tracking site really shines, though, is with its interactive map of results. The map is green-clad, which doesn't do much for easily telling which candidate did well in a certain state. But click on a state that's already held its primary or caucus, and you're dramatically zoomed into a data wonderland. County-by-county data is available, letting users easily delve into the nitty-gritty of a state's results.
Historical data from 2004 and 2008's presidential elections is available too, presumably for users to get some context into a state's political leanings.
Which website's delegate tracker is your favorite and why? Have you seen any other great delegate tracking websites out there? Sound off in the comments below.
This story originally published on Mashable here.