Cool visualization of precinct-level votes

Jonathan Rodden sends along this interactive webmap of 2008 precinct election results:

Rodden writes:

It is a pretty big improvement over the old county-level maps, and you can zoom in on metro areas and neighborhoods.

We have also made an atlas that makes it possible to superimpose the precinct election results on block-group-level race and income data. NYC (Brooklyn in particular) is fascinating.

How to report partial returns on election night

Seeing all these data reminds me of how I think they should report the partial vote totals on election night. Instead of saying, “With 14% of the precincts in, X percent of the vote is going to Mitt Romney,” they should say, “With 14% of the precincts in, the swing is Y percent toward the Republican ticket.” This would be much more informative, considering that those 14% are not a random sample of precincts. I don’t know why don’t they report the swing. I have the impression that they do it that way in Britain.

11 Responses to Cool visualization of precinct-level votes

  1. Jeffrey Friedman October 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Wow! Congratulations! Amazing work.

  2. Africanist October 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Neat stuff! Is it just me or is the data not showing up for Oregon?

  3. Jonathan October 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Only thing that could make me even more stunned is if the meta data were better for each precinct. Amazing stuff.

  4. Jonathan Rodden October 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    We could not find precinct boundaries for Oregon, but just today I got a lead, so hopefully we’ll add Oregon soon. I agree it would be nice to have more info for precincts. Long story. Hopefully the next version will be better.

  5. Jason October 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Super cool! I’ve always wanted to see a map like this. 🙂

  6. scott October 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    take a look at this article which shows fraudulent vote flipping that varies with precinct voter size:

    the authors specialize in statistics and fraud analysis and they can not come up with a plausible explanation other than fraud that helps Republicans over Democrats.

  7. Steve Fisher October 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    You are quite right about swing and election night reporting in Britain. Although we usually focus on average swing across the results in so far. This is normally a little more stable and a better as a guide to which undeclared seats will change hands than overall swing. I’ve sometimes wondered why I haven’t seen the same in US election night coverage.

  8. mediaglyphic October 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    very very nice graphics. I read that David Shor of Stochastic Democracy did a precinct based poll in 2008 and nailed the forecast.

  9. John in VA November 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    The state of Oregon conducts its elections entirely by mail, so precincts as such do not exist anymore.

    • Andrew Gelman November 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm #


      I thought people could hand-deliver their ballots in Oregon if they want to.

    • Matt May 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      Precincts DO exist in Oregon and we are able to drop off ballots at drop box sites during election seasons. Most precinct information and maps can be found on each county clerks’ websites.