A digital project by historians illustrates voting patterns over time via a series of animated maps





Borrowing a technique from Hollywood, historians at the University of Richmond have created animated maps that chart voting patterns in U.S. presidential elections since 1840.

The maps show county-by-county data for every major election year in which data are available, and that information shifts over time. One map, for example, highlights counties where the victor won by only a small margin. It reveals how "battleground states" have changed over the years. The maps are displayed as video montages, with each election year shown sequentially. A slow-fade effect—that's the Hollywood-inspired part—is used between maps, which helps highlight the changes.

Another series of maps plots the numbers of votes cast for third-party candidates in each county. It's more than you might think, given the reputation of the United States as a system dominated by two parties.

Leaders of the project, called Voting America, have coined a term for their images: "cinematic maps." They are examples of an emerging trend in social-science research in which scholars turn complex data sets into pictures to help reveal patterns across time.


comments powered by Disqus