Election results graph

Guest Post/Cross-posted by Xan Gregg
Orange Country provides timely online election results, and their HTML is friendly enough that is can be imported into JMP. Below is a graph I came up to show the Chapel Hill town council results by precinct. Precincts, along the horizontal axis, are sorted by number of total votes. [Click graph to see full resolution version.]

I’m thinking there’s a better graph using area, but this overlay is the best I can do easily. At least it shows a few interesting pieces of information:

  • In general, not much variation among precincts.
  • A few significant-looking exceptions to the general case: Cutson in Cedar Falls, Easthom in Patterson, Thorpe in Northside and Lincoln, Baker in Absentee, Harrison in Durham.
  • Absentee was by far the largest “precinct”. [Sorry for chopping off the top of the graph, but otherwise there’s too much unused space in the graph; Easthom and Kleinschmidt got over 500 there.]
  • There is a significant difference in votes per precinct. Is it worth campaigning in Battle Creek and Country Club?

Looking at the voter turn out statistics, it’s clear the main factor in the votes per precinct is just that some precincts have more registered voters than others (I don’t know how registered voters correlates to population, though). However, there are exceptions. The smallest (in registered voters, that is) precinct, Weaver Dairy Sat. (is that Carol Woods?) had the fifth highest voter turn out with over 68% voting. And two of the largest precincts, Battle Creek and Country Club (are those UNC?), brought up the rear, due to a measly 2.4% turn out. So the graph doesn’t tell enough of the story there; those precincts are worth campaigning in if one can increase the voter turn out.

Xan Gregg is a programmer who blogs at http://www.forthgo.com



This chart rocks, a great way to look at results.

I just want to point out that many of the downtown precincts (like Country Club) have much smaller populations. So while turnout may be low, it might not be as bad as it seems compared to other precincts. It would be great to add something to this chart to indicate the proportion of registered voters in each precinct.

Thanks, Xan!

Or another line against a right-hand scale, indicating total voters in that precinct.

We voted early---one stop voting---would that get added into our precinct? Also---I don't know the NAME of our "home precinct"---but we always vote at the Church of Rec...


Last cycle I did the kind of analysis that JB, Gerry and Jason are talking about. Since I was a candidate this cycle I was planning to defer this exercise to someone else but....if it isn't done I'll probably take it on as part of my "Chapel Hill Elections for Beginners" effort.

I've released all my financial data current to election day. I believe Jason is following suit in the near term and I expect a few other candidates to follow, hopefully within a few weeks. So, JB, Gerry, Jason, Xan or anyone else (even me) will have the raw data needed to make this analysis while the election results still resonate in the public's mind.

Melanie, if you vote at the Church of Reconciliation, you live in Coker Hills.

I'm trying to recall my high school statistics course as I'm performing my own analysis of the election. My initial thought of simply "I got clobbered" is true, but utterly useless in terms of trying to learn anything about this election. Anyone else planning on doing any statistical work with the numbers?

One thing I noticed, for better or for worse, was that my votes came at about a dollar a piece. I want to compare how I spent money to how everyone else did to see if I can see what worked and what didn't. I suspect some dollars went a lot further than others. My $51 Facebook ad probably brought in about five votes, but my flyers were probably about a dime per vote when delivered by hand.

I'm eventually going to formalize this a bit more for my Political Science independent study credit, in which case I'll upload and post links to anything useful I find.

Jason, perhaps your campaign would have done better if you had pretended to be this guy:

It would be fun to see a "dollars per vote" graph, anyone have all the campaign finance data?

the dollars per vote graph would be fun... however dollars spent per vote would be even better. some of the candidates didn't spend all the money they raised...

Whoops! Let me try that again. I don't know for sure if anyone will or will not release info in the short term. I believe Jason already has some PDFs covering his finances out on his site....

Anyway, I hope the candidates will post their numbers now while the election is still fresh in the public's mind but all I can do is encourage that post-election openness....

Indeed. We forgot to scan our last submission, but the numbers are posted elsewhere on OP. At last glance (the end of October), my total receipts were at 1293.14, total expenditures around 1065.63, with 227.51 cash on hand. Since then, a few more donations trickled in and we got close to zeroing out the account with purchases of wooden posts, printer toner, and several miscellaneous under-25-dollar purchases. I want to try and get our final report done as soon as possible, because there's no reason to put it off besides laziness.

I'm planning on taking a trip down to Hillsborough to do some research of my own next week. It would be wonderful, though I don't think likely, if there were a full set of reports for me to look at then. I'd love to have learned enough to effectively be able to tell someone how to run for office here and get elected, based on my mistakes, and that's going to take some work I haven't done yet.

Thanks Jason. I knew I've become a footnote in our Town's history but I never realized I end up in a dissertation. Hope you consider prepublishing on OP.

Jason and Will, I wish you guys had won. If I had lived in CH you would have got my votes.

Will, what's going to happen with wireless now?

David, I've been working the Wifi/muni-networking proposal for almost 2 years now. The only difference between then and now is about a zillion new supporters. We have a new Councilwoman that made it part of her platform. The DEDC is coming around. The Tech Board is trying to move forward. And if any Chapel Hillian was following the recent election (???), I think it'll be on their radar.

Beyond Wifi/muni-networking, I'll be continuing to push for right-sizing our Town's fleet ("green fleets"), the quarterly budget reports ("economic report card"), people's budget committee, traditional amenities for downtown, etc.

Hey, it's all wonk, all the time ;-)!

David, it was an absolute pleasure to see you work through your campaign. I hope you'll be thinking of next time (which is only a year and some change as several folk have already pointed out to me). Until then, I hope you'll still consider evaluating our muni-networking approach in terms of good, cost effective, public policy.

state legislation passsed in 2005 will require early and absentee votes to be reported back to the precinct beginning with the 2006 primary, to be reported within 180 days of the election (except on a one time basis for the 2006 primary, to be reported back within 360 days). The reason is that the ballots will have to be sorted by precinct after the election (after the clerk writes the precinct number on the early ballot before it is handed to you) and run back through the tabulators. There are more expensive soltuions which may work on the next generation of opti-scan readers, but that is 18 months away.

> Thus, right now you have to be careful when drawing
> conclusions about the outcome in a precinct, as you don't
> know the actual total votes from the precinct.

Very true. I would assume that if vote totals from early voting were migrated back to precincts that I would have done much better than my numbers appear in Country Club, Greenwood, East Franklin, Mason Farm, and maybe even Northside. I got almost twice the percentage of votes at Early Voting that I did on election day. Over a third of the ballots cast early had my name on them, statistically speaking, which was much higher than my overall showing.

I thought I voted in COker Hills--just didn't see "Coker Hills" listed the first time I looked at the chart. Might be time for new glasses? Or a BIGGER CHART!

Still didn't get my question answered about "one stop voting" --did my votes get reported to the precinct? They did ask what my "home" precinct was.


Melanie, as I understand the procedure in OC, they do not migrate the absentee votes (mailed and early) back to the home precincts. They plan to do this at some point down the road. Thus, right now you have to be careful when drawing conclusions about the outcome in a precinct, as you don't know the actual total votes from the precinct.

Well, Will, you got two more votes in the Coker Hills district than the graph shows! ;~)


I noticed that too, Jason. I also noticed that the "absentee" voters got the winners right in the CH, Carrboro, Hillsborough and School Board elections, but had the order wrong in the CH and the School Board elections. Mark K. led Laurin by 7 votes with the absentees and Laurin led Mark K. by 16 in the current OC BOE table. Amazing!

Can you conclude much from this? I think early voters know who they are going to vote for, are not exposed to the "last minute" campaigning, positive or negative, and are not exposed to the candidates and supporters campaigning near the polls on election day. I'm not sure this holds up in other years.

Fred, every time I walked by the Planetarium during one-stop voting season this year, there was at least one if not 3 candidates or volunteers out front. Granted, that's a sampling of about 3 trips (1 on the Saturday when it ended and some candidates seemed to be there for the new Unsung Founders Memorial dedication), but it appears that some candidates realized a significant % of voters are taking advantage of one-stop.

FB> I also noticed that the “absentee” voters got the winners right in the CH, ...

Actually, CH early voters put Will Raymond in the top four instead of Ed Harrison. [Beginning to regret chopping off the Absentee results in the graph...]

Xan, absolutely correct! I jotted down 385 for Ed and 382 for Will. The eyes are the third to go!

I've made a couple more graphs of the town council results, a mosaic plot and comparative box plots.


Thanks Melanie for the votes. It looks like the folk that measured my candidacy prior to some of the final days glossy (glossing?) literature and interesting signage gave me an edge over incumbancy. BTW, I hope you kept some of a particular candidate's literature to use as a measuring stick moving forward.

Thanks Xan for one of the coolest plots I've ever seen. Maybe we can work together on the financial breakdowns (once our candidates have released their Oct. 24th to Nov. 8th records).


I also think the early voting numbers reflect that you won the student vote :) Well deserved- you sure worked for it.


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