One of the most common questions received here at the atlas is whether there are data for U.S. President tabulated by Congressional District. Many of the inquiries are from visitors whom wish to perform an analysis on how the results of the Electoral College would be different using a district method (such as that currently in use by Maine or Nebraska). The Atlas currently has an incomplete (although growing) set of data for U.S. President compiled by Congressional District for the 2004 general election. The problems facing such a compilation are many.
As an example of the problems encountered, consider the state of Georgia. With thirteen congressional districts to be drawn across 159 counties, the state legislature saw fit (for some reason) to gerrymander the congressional districts such that the boundaries split 33 counties when the decennial redistricting took place following the 2000 census. To compile the results, the data from each of these counties must be obtained at the precinct level and cross-referenced with a key that describes to which district each precinct belongs. However, it turns out that many precincts do not belong to a single district – the CD boundaries actually split precincts. For example, Cobb County has 19 precincts split between districts (either between district 5 and 11 or district 6 and 11). These votes, unfortunately, can not be allocated to a congressional district. Furthermore, all counties in Georgia have a dedicated precinct that includes all absentee ballots cast in the county into a single precinct (this is different from other states, such as New York, where absentee ballots are counted with their individual precincts). In all 33 of the split counties, the absentee ballots can not be allocated to congressional districts. Typically, in 2004, the absentee ballots comprise 10 to 20 percent of the total votes cast in the county. Like absentee ballots, provisional ballots also have their own “precinct” and can not be allocated (although the number of votes in this category is signficantly smaller than absentees or split precincts).
Overall, in Georgia, about 490,000 votes can not be allocated to the correct congressional district (about 15% of total votes cast state-wide). This is a relatively significant figure that may impact the accuracy of the results for President by Congressional District. Its also quite unfortunate for those of us who prefer precicsion in their data.
I have updated corrected write-in figures for the state of New Hampshire in the General Election of 2004 for Presidential Candidates: Michael Badnarik, Michael Peroutka, and “Write-ins” (i.e. other write-ins) at the city/town and precinct level. Upon compiling the precinct-level data several weeks ago, I noticed that the data for individual write-in candidates posted on their web site under “Individual write-ins” did not reconcile with the total scattering vote at the precinct level (the figures did correlate at the county level). I emailed the New Hampshire Secretary of State Elections Division to ask about the discrepancy. Today, I received the following (very interesting) reply:
I received your email about the discrepancies in the write in votes for president. After having 3 different people work on these numbers, I decided to do it myself. Yes there were discrepancies. I went through each and every town and made corrections. I hope to have those corrections posted on our website in a couple of days. (maybe today..can’t promise) Thank you for calling this to my attention.
The new figures have been updated on the Atlas.
The Atlas Electoral College Calculator has been a very popular feature on the site. One of the alternate uses of the tool has been to create maps for discussion on the forum (such as what-if scenarios, predictions, etc.). A common feature request for the calculator is to show popular vote percentages of the winning candidate as different shades of red and blue (and green) in the same manner as presented with the Atlas results maps. This functionality has now been added to the calculator. The user has an option to turn the feature on or off in the Map Options box (in the off-state, the map generator simply ignores the percentages shown in the boxes). The name has also been changed from the Electoral College Calculator to the Electoral College Calculator and Map Generator.
Yesterday, the Atlas was migrated to a new dedicated server using the same host provider. The content (web pages, images, databases, etc.) are now co-located on a 1.7GHz Celeron with 768MB or RAM running BSD UNIX. The move interrupted service for about 15-20 minutes during the day. The site (and particularly the forum) has grown in size and popularity. This move is expected to improve site performance, decrease response time, and reduce the number of failed database connects. Thanks to all for your patience and help through the transition.