Colorado Geographic Alliance

Election Coverage 2012

© Domencolja | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Elections are a great way to teach students about political geography.  Every election season, a wealth of maps, systems, and analyses are produced that can be used in your classroom to help advance understanding of our political system, social studies, and geographic education.  We have collected a number of resources that we feel can be valuable in your classrooms at various grade levels.

Tools and Online Maps

One of the best ways to understand the current election may be by exploring what happened in the previous one.  The Standford 2008 Precinct Map shows who won each precinct throughout the nation, with areas where the vote was close highlighted in white.  You can use this to show a comparison with how the precincts are expected to vote this term.
Stanford 2008 Precinct Map
Another great tool to understanding the last election, also produced by Stanford, is the Stanford Election Atlas. This tool allows you to compare election results to such factors as income, race, and even the potential number of votes per square mile.
Stanford Election Atlas
For a little more historical perspective, you can access ESRI's "Historical Electoral Votes By State" online interface. This great online GIS allows you to see how different states voted in each election back to 1956.
Electoral Votes by State: Historical
The road to the elections has been a long one - and the way that the candidates are decided are through the Primary and Caucas system.  ESRI has the entire story of primaries with its "Election Year Primaries" storymap.  This tool shows not only the dates and results of each primary across the nation, but also includes demographics, political attitudes, and more.
Election Year Primaries Storymap
Another great resource from ESRI is the "US 2012 Presidential Election Map."  This online web GIS allows you to explore the 2012 US Presidential election via state demographics from 2010, plus election data from previous years.  For more about the tool, read the ESRI blog post on its creation and use.
US 2012 Presidential Election Map
Not sure where your polling place is?  Need to find out what's on your local ballot?  Confused about your congressional district?  There's a lot of measures on ballots aside from just who will be president - to find out answers to all of these questions, check out Google's Election Voter Info tool.
Google Voter Info Tool
Wondering what states are considered "battleground" states?  Interested in tracking the election as it happens? has all this information, including analysis of probably election outcomes and a tool to share your prediction of the election geovisually.
Cartograms are maps where some thematic mapping variable is substituted for distance on the map - effectively making the sizes on the map represent something other than the actual distance between two points. In this case, cartograms were created for the 2004 and 2008 elections that size areas in relation to factors such as electoral votes or votes by county.
Election Cartograms
For more interesting cartograms - including a great cartogram that morphs the map based upon ad spending per state - check out this site from National Public Radio.
artogram by campaign spending
"Purple America" is a discussion about how America is no longer red vs. blue, but increasingly "purple," in the middle.  The site includes some great geovisualizations of the 2004 election and can help to understanding voting preferences in the past, which lead toward the future.
Purple America
Voting America encourages users to think about political history by allowing two types of comparison.  Animations of a single type of map - say, measuring the winner of presidential elections at the county level - allow for comparisons across time.  Users can also explore a single election by looking at patterns across a number of variables, including the percentage of votes won by parties, the winner of a given district, or the distribution of votes across the United States.
Voting America
David Leip's Atlas of Presidential Elections - The Atlas is a free internet resource providing results of U.S. Presidential Elections to the world community. Data is collected from many official sources and presented here in one convenient location. Site membership is now available for those individuals or groups who desire greater levels of detail with regard to U.S. Presidential Elections.  Leip Atlas
Additional Resources


Presidential Election 2012

Presidential Election 2016

Geography of Elections