Friday, November 2, 2012

The Way We Voted

The last few days of the 2012 campaign season are upon us. Although we don’t yet know what outcomes Election Day 2012 (Nov. 6) will bring, we are familiar with the process that will take place. Americans across the country will report to polling places or mail in ballots, and officials will work furiously to tally the results.

Although that voting data will be extremely important on Tuesday, it won’t disappear once the winners are determined. In fact, election night will just be the first stage in scrutiny that will continue in the months and years ahead. A staggering amount of statistical analysis and visualization can be conducted with national election data. For a comprehensive example of what’s been done since the 2008 election, check out this project, created by Stanford University’s Spatial Social Science Lab in conjunction with researchers at Harvard University.

Still from the Stanford Election Atlas

Curious about how your neighborhood voted in 2008? The Stanford Election Atlas displays results at the precinct level, allowing you to see the political variety that can often be found across just one county. The atlas also uses 2010 Census information to break down the race/ethnicity, income, potential voters per square mile, and margin of victory statistics for block groups across the country and overlay that data on the precinct returns.  

Some (not too surprising) findings from our area:  

  • All of the precincts in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti went blue in 2008.  
  • The areas in Ann Arbor with the highest percentage of potential voters (in other words, the greatest concentration of households with residents ages 18 and above) are found on or adjacent to the U of Michigan campus. 
Only time will tell what the Election Atlas will look like for the 2012 race. But there’s one way to make sure that you help to shape the data: VOTE!