A New Interactive Reference Resource: Stanford Election Atlas Released Online
A new interactive atlas from Stanford’s Spatial Social Science Lab looks at the 2008 presidential election on the level of individual precincts. The exhaustive study reveals how deep-rooted geographic trends still affect party affiliation.
“You can see pretty dramatic voting changes when you literally cross a street,” said Jonathan Rodden, professor of political science and director of the Spatial Social Science Lab (SSSL) at Stanford. “But you have to go below the county level to see it.”
In an ongoing excavation of these hidden patterns, the SSSL has released the Stanford Election Atlas, an online interactive data visualization tool that allows users to inspect the precinct-by-precinct results of the 2008 presidential election.
The product of years of collaborative work at Stanford and Harvard universities and at mapping and geographic information system company Esri, the zoom-capable online atlas explores correlations between income, race and voting behavior across the United States. A customizable version allows users to combine the election data with other maps, including topographical and satellite images.
Data collection for the project, handled by a team of researchers led by Rodden and Harvard Professor of government Stephen Ansolabehere, proved arduous.
“In the U.S., we don’t have centralized election administration,” said Rodden. “It’s all handled at the county level.”
The researchers were forced to collect and map separate polling data from every precinct – a task made even more difficult by the fact that the organizations that defined precinct boundaries were separate from those that actually counted the votes. (Oregon, which only uses mail-in ballots, remains blank for the moment.)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.