Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Planning Upcoming Workshop: Predicting 2008 Local Voting Results

One of the three GIS workshops we have planned for the Fall 2008 semester is entitled 'Predict 2008 Voting Patterns Across Neighborhoods in Texas'. It is not scheduled until late October, so it is oh so far from being done, but here is how we are planning to go about it.

By Texas neighborhoods, I really mean that each workshop participant will estimate how voters will vote in each Voter Tabulation District (VTD) in Texas. This can be then grouped to form neighborhoods, especially in urban areas.

There will be three parts to the exercise.
  1. Participants will first predict voting by using the previous two presidential election results (2000, 2004) and the previous two gubernatorial results (2002, 2006).
    1. Data source: Texas Legislative Council: Redistricting FTP Site
    2. Participants will build an estimation layer by compiling a weighted average of the four election datasets provided, as well as rates of change between these elections. Everyone will be able to specify which attributes are included in the analysis and what each weight will be.
  2. Participants will then explore the bivariate correlation between various demographic attributes and previous election results, such as income or Hispanic population.
    1. We will use the Linear Regression (bivariate) ArcMap extension, written by Michael Sawada, of the University of Ottawa.
    2. After exploring these tabular relationships, participants can decide whether to use any of these demographics to adjust their estimation layer created in the first step.
  3. Participants will then have the option to enable random occurrences to adjust their estimation layer for them. This one should be a lot of fun, as a random number generator will specify a last-minute political scandal, natural disaster, or economic crisis that will further adjust the estimates.
Of course, this will all be automated using a combination of Python scripting and the Model Builder. so participants can concentrate on their research and the enormous potential that GIS lends to this type of analysis.

It is scheduled for one week before election day, so we are hoping this hot topic will be a further draw for students and faculty.

Just for kicks, I created a Google Maps webpage showing % votes for Bush in 2004 and total votes for each candidate by VTD for Tarrant County, TX.


megan said...


I am a political science PhD student and I'm interested in using these techniques in my research. Can you direct me to literature employing these tools within political science?

Many thanks,

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