Visualizing the 2016 Presidential Election in Alachua County, Florida

Update: Scroll to bottom of page for interactive map of election results.

The 2016 presidential election was truly an historic event. While Clinton’s popular vote lead continues to rise (more than 2 million as I write this), Trump currently has the Electoral College lead. One result of this election is it’s polarization of American politics and society. Numerous reports of hate crimes and violence towards marginalized groups have been reported since election night. I count myself among those who are concerned over this rise, and I continue to look at various ways to support my local community during these difficult times. It is my hope that some of the following analysis will help folks identify like-minded neighbors.

One way I and others can help is through the use of counter-mapping to make sense of this election in our local vicinity. Counter-mapping refers to the use mapping technologies for non-elite purposes, and is increasingly acknowledged as a primary tool for subverting establishment politics and corporate interests. The first step in accomplishing this is to acquire data. In this case that means information on voting precinct boundaries and election results. Fortunately, the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections has a Google map of precincts and has posted the election results. It is a relatively straightforward process to take the Google-based KML data and convert it to a shapefile for use with GIS software (e.g., ArcGIS, QGIS). Similarly, converting data between PDF and Excel is pretty straightforward.

The following map shows the location of voting precincts in Alachua County in relation to town boundaries. (Click maps for enlarged versions)precincts-and-townsAnother map of precincts, labeled with their unique identifiers. alachua-precinctsThe majority of residents in Alachua County live in Gainesville, home to the University of Florida. The following maps shows a close-up of this area. alachua-precincts-zommed-inThose familiar with Alachua County know that the majority of residents here voted for Clinton, and the county is historically a Democratic stronghold in north central Florida. The following two maps visualize the percentage of votes for Clinton and Trump per voting precinct.percentage-clinton

percentage-trumpHonestly, I don’t find those maps particularly useful. Residents of the county understand the rural/urban division in local politics. These maps simply illustrate that divide, as with the following dot density map. dot-densityTherefore, different methods for visualizing the election results potentially offer more insights regarding local voting patterns. There are lots of methods for visualizing results, and I think that a series of bar graphs proves most accessible. The following image is zoomed into Gainesville as the majority of surrounding communities in Alachua County were predominantly Trump supporters. bar-graphsI think this map goes a lot further in showing local variation in regards to which neighborhoods voted for Clinton or Trump. In general, East and Central Gainesville supported Clinton, while support for Trump grows as one moves west. bar-graphs-and-clinton-2x-upwardsThe above bar graph map includes highlighted precincts where Clinton had 2x or more the number of votes as Trump. Roughly speaking, this means that for every three people you meet in these areas, two or more of them most likely voted for Clinton.

There has been a lot of talk in Gainesville about the racial make-up of voters, and the need to organize across lines of difference in the coming years. These lines of difference often coincide with race, class, sexuality, and other axes of identity. In Gainesville, it is very clear that supporters of Clinton (many of whom are more accurately described as opponents of Trump) crossed these lines of difference. The following two maps show the same area of majority Clinton-voting as compared to Black and White populations (normalized against total population for each precinct). population-and-clinton-2x-blackpopulation-and-clinton-2x-whiteThe above maps demonstrate that actions by Gainesville residents to become a sanctuary city will likely enjoy a lot of support from citizens.

In the interest of representing the entire county, the following map shows the areas where Clinton voters outnumber Trump voters 2-1, where Trump voters outnumber Clinton voters 2-1, and areas that were more evenly matched (within 30% or less of one another). 2-1-and-mixed-areasInterested in viewing the data yourself? Use the embedded map below to explore vote counts for candidates in each precinct.

Controls for the map are similar to Google Maps. Click and drag your mouse to re-position the map, scroll the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Click within a precinct to view vote counts. Enjoy!

I hope these maps help you visualize the local political landscape of Alachua County. Feel free to share the maps as desired.

Thanks for reading,
Edward Gonzalez-Tennant


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