The press is routinely accused of covering political campaigns as if they were horse races: so preoccupied with who’s up or down in the polls that it ignores the substance of the campaign. President Obama made the claim in so many words last month, and journalism professor Jay Rosen has made a career out of bemoaning horse-race coverage wherever he finds it.
Here at Slate Labs, we’re doubling down. If people want a horse race, why not give them a horse race?
In the above animation, each horse is a candidate, with its horizontal position representing that candidate’s standing in the polls. Our starting line is March 2010, when the major polling firms began releasing national polls of likely Republican voters on a consistent basis. The horse’s position is the determined by the average of the last five polls, to smooth out the margins of error. The data is gathered from Real Clear Politics’ aggregation of major polls. Delegate totals are from the Associated Press. Check back regularly—we’ll update the race as new polls come in.