Presidential debate coverage

Kim Soffen and I worked with the Fact Checker team to produce a library of charts to share with readers when candidates cited or misstated statistics. This was a vital part of our team’s debate coverage and the cards were shared widely on social media and embedded in our live blog posts and next-day roundup.

Following the first two debates, assignment editor Lazaro Gamio and I worked together to visualize how the debates unfolded, focusing on the facial expressions and body language of the candidates.

After the first, Gamio experimented with Python Image Library to overlay images of Clinton and Trump. We worked together to plan out different visualizations showing how active or still the candidates were during contentious exchanges.


While this project featured an interesting visual, we felt it lacked sufficient analysis about Trump’s and Clinton’s behavior during the debate. We decided to look for ways to build upon it for the second debate.

With the benefit of a couple of weeks to plan, I was able to contact several body language experts who had previously done this type of analysis on presidential debates. I enlisted them in a running conversation during the town-hall style debate that gave me a trove of analysis to pair with some terrific photo visualization by Laz in the resulting piece, “What two body language experts saw at the second presidential debate“.


Next, we focused our efforts on early voting that was already underway before the third, and most substantive, debate. I contacted Michael McDonald, a professor tracking early voting totals nationwide, who provided terrific insight about the effect of early voting on how informed voters were when casting their ballot. The result was this graphic, “More than 2.5M votes were cast before the final debate. Does it matter?