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US Presidential Election WebMapping Resources PDF Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Letham (GISuser editor)   
28 October 2004
A recent announcement from ESRI boasted how their technology would be used by CBS in their computer mapping of the US Presidential election. This will be another great plug for the industry at-large as millions of network viewers will be exposed to the benefits of geospatial technologies. Read on for details of this and some other fine resources that have bneen mapping election results over the years.

On election night on national telecasts, all the American public kept seeing on maps of the vote was a "sea of red". Most of us geographers and GIS folks knew otherwise, and found ourselves hoping for some more accurate cartographic renderings of the true vote. Here is a great article that looks into various methods to accurately report them. More...

Dave Leip's USelectionatlas.org is an interesting resource that was started as a paper hobby after the 1992 Presidential Election. Dave was 22 and attending graduate school at MIT at the time when he made a photocopy of a U.S. map (with county boundaries) from one of the libraries and filled in counties with colored pen according to the winner. This effort spawned the idea for the wesbite and it's been going strong ever since.

The resource provides valuable election data pointers and information as well as some great historical information, useful weblinks, a weblog, and some great maps. Note, back in 200 I actually bestowed Dave a site of the week award from a previous resource that I was running. Some very noteworthy stops on the site include the 2004 prediction map and the mock election where visitors can cast a vote. Also, Dave has posted a mpa showing the closing time of polls.. this could be very useful for the TV networks as you might recall back in 2000 when a major network screwed up and began airing results prior to polls closing in Florida!

2004 Presidential prediction map - Source: http://www.uselectionatlas.org/

This is a great resource, a fun read, and is very rich in content... thumbs up Dave! See http://uselectionatlas.org/

The University of Virginia Library hosts a fine historical collection of Presidential Election maps. These maps span from 1860-1996 and reveal the results of the electoral vote distribution. No rocket science here but its still a fine resource for those interested.


USA Today's 2004 Election Coverage - Always a popular information source, USA Today is hosting a section devoted to the 2004 Presidential election. Look for some interesting data, maps, tables, reports, and analysis. Some intereting graphics available include the one shown below mapping out the travel routes of both major parties over th epast couple of weeks.

Candidate Tracking map - Source: USA Today


BBC USA Election Maps - Even the BBC is in on the hype! A very cool mapping applet is used to guide visitors through each State and provide a historical perpective on voter trends and elction history. Clicking the "Past elections" tab switches the mapper to reveal some hsitorical data. Once again, clicking on a State shows a map along with the election results and popular votes. Results date back to 1948 and even more cool, users can click a "Play" button to run through an animation showing complete results over the past 50 years.. very cool stuff!  This is a fine resource and very educational. I was very pleased at how informative a UK-based publication was on American history.

Image: Swing States results from the 200 election


PBS.ORG Vote 2004 - PBS has published a fine electoral college map. The map shows the 200 election results. Clicking a State reveals statistics from the 2000 election and users can optionally select election results dating back to 1980. Once again, no rocket science here, however, a useful and informative collection of historical data [and a good use of maps!]

Electoral College Map (Source: PBS)


National Atlas Historical Election Data - In January 2002, the National Atlas announced the release of a new printed map, Presidential Elections 1789-2000. Soon after, three associated products were made available -- printable maps, online maps, and downloadable data. This page features the printable maps for the Presidential Elections 1789-2000. The Presidential Elections map is a wonderful source of historical information and the printable maps make that information even more accessible. Users have access to some fine map product available as GIF, PDF, or EPS formats. These data are presented as very appealing mapping products and are likely the best source of printable election maps that we've come accross!
If your interested in developing your own mapping products, the Atlas also provides an online interactive mapping module - See http://nationalatlas.gov/natlas/natlasstart.asp

Presidential Election Results 200 (Source: National Atlas.gov)


The map below  shows elections results for the 2000 Presidential general election at the county level for 49 States and at the elections district level for Alaska. The raw data came from Election Data Services. Users can access these data for themselves from http://www.electiondataservices.com/content/datafiles.htm. Election data files are available for a fee in the following formats:

  • Fixed length ASCII text
  • Quote and comma delimited (,) ASCII text
  • dBASE
  • Excel


NY Times - Of course no election coverage would be complete without information from the New York Times. This interactive graphic election guide provides readers with loads of valuable information for each party and candidate conveniently broken down by State. Map themes include swing states, money states, voter change, public opinion, and much more. The nifty mapping applet provides a simple GUI and is rather fun to use as well!

The graphic below shows a look of the US composition based on the number of electoral votes represented by each State.

US by electoral votes (Source: NY Times)


From ESRI... " ArcGIS 9 will be used to visualize the U.S. Presidential Election voting results during the election evening coverage on November 2. John Roberts, a correspondent for CBS Evening News, will use ArcGIS 9-based maps several times during the evening broadcast. ". For more information about how GIS software is used in elections, please visit www.esri.com/elections

We could likely go on and on but we're limited by our bandwidth! If you have a favorite election results mapping resource that you'd like to share, please contact us with details.
Last Updated ( 11 November 2004 )
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