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Watch (and Track) the Latest Election Ads with AdTracker on OpenCongress

October 26, 2010 - by Conor Kenny

We’re now a week out from the midterm elections and the election ads are getting nasty. While there are some great tools for tracking election spending (like those from the Sunlight Foundation), we wanted the ability to actually watch these monstrosities and create a permanent archive to hold these groups and politicians accountable, so we created the AdTracker project on OpenCongress.

AdTracker is built on the OpenCongress wiki and complements RaceTracker, which tracks all the declared candidates for each congressional and gubernatorial seat. It uses the distributed power of direct citizen research to create galleries of viewable campaign ads for every congressional seat. You can, for example, watch the infamous “Aqua Buddha” ad slinging mud at Republican Rand Paul on the Kentucky senate seat ad page. Or, head over to the Nevada senate seat ad page to watch several ads targeting Democrat Harry Reid using pictures of scary-looking immigrants. Because AdTracker is built using forms that anyone can edit, you can also add links to contextual stories, like the fact that most Kentucky voters think the “Aqua Buddha” was in poor taste or that one of those scary immigrant ads attacking Harry Reid was rated “barely true” by Politifact.

Ads by independent groups are a huge, huge factor in this election, so one feature we included with AdTracker is the ability to look up ads by different types of groups or by specific sponsors simply by clicking the “more ads” link next to their name on an AdTracker page. This allows you to, for example, see the ads we’re tracking by the Karl Rove-affiliated group American Crossroads in Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Colorado.

We’re already tracking hundreds of ads in several dozen of congressional races, but we need your help to make this project work. Are we missing any ads by American Crossroads or other independent groups? Did you see an ad on television, TalkingPointsMemo or a local political blog? All you need is a YouTube link to the video and a free account at OpenCongress to add it. Start at the AdTracker homepage.

Like everything else we do at the Participatory Politics Foundation, AdTracker is free and open-source, so please copy, link-to, remix and reuse the material as you like. It’s what Aqua Buddha would want.

Here’s a taste of some races AdTracker has the goods on:


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