Stanford Election Atlas Reveals Subtle Voting Patterns

In a collaboration among Stanford, Harvard and Esri, a new tool provides granular detail on the voting patterns of precincts around the country.

by Staff Writer / October 30, 2012

Election data analyzed by Stanford University researchers offers a detailed breakdown of 2008 presidential election results. The Spatial Sciences Lab (SSSL) at Stanford announced on Oct. 29 the creation of a country-wide map outlining precinct-by-precinct election results from the contest between now President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.

Where traditional voting maps simply show counties to be red or blue, the Stanford Election Atlas reveals the demographics of specific polling places and individual neighborhoods. Using Esri mapping technology, researchers created the map after years of collaborative research at Stanford and Harvard.

According to a press release from Stanford, neighborhood-level election analysis reveals more nuanced voting trends based on historical geographic distinctions, like former transportation routes and industrial areas.

"You can see blue veins running through primarily red states, tracing out early 20th-century railroads," said Jonathan Rodden, professor of political science and SSSL director. "And these are railroads that are long gone now."

The customizable, interactive map can be used to draw correlations between income, race and voting behavior. The Stanford Election Atlas can be found at