“Mapping the Vote” is a project of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, in coordination with the Arizona Capitol Times, that analyzed more than 2.3 million votes cast in Arizona’s 2012 General Election.
The project was the result of a unique partnership in which AZCIR and the Capitol Times collected, cleaned and analyzed voting data from key races in Arizona. Using statistical analysis to explain patterns, trends and possible correlations, we then merged this information with block-level Census data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Arizona Capitol Times journalists furthered the analysis with in-depth interviews with political party stakeholders and experts to report the results.
We paired how people voted at polling locations, with absentee and provisional ballots, at a precinct-level, with demographic breakdowns from the 2010 Census to better understand the election outcome.
To date, the series includes eight stories and is combined with interactive maps that allow readers to sift through the data on their own. The data explained interesting trends not only in how Arizona voted, but also some stand-out precincts among the more than 1,600 that span our state.
Here are some of our key findings:
Strange voting patterns emerged from a precinct in Colorado City, Ariz., where data from a polygamist community explained how hundreds of ballots were nearly identical from the top of the ticket down. Those races showed a near-100 percent vote tally for winners. That same data shows that, in-step with the high vote percent for winning candidates, races such as the ticket for U.S. President, for the Arizona Senate, Mohave County Attorney and sheriff, among others, had no votes at all. This was entirely unique in the state.
1st Congressional District:
Despite a Republican-leaning congressional district, Democratic candidate Ann Kirkpatrick outperformed her Republican opponent, Jonathan Paton. The analysis reveals how Kirkpatrick did well in key areas while Paton did not match voters who cast ballots for the Republican presidential candidate.
2nd Congressional District:
Democratic congressional candidate Ron Barber outperformed his Republican counterpart, Martha McSally, in Tucson’s most competitive precincts, which lead to his thin victory. This win was in part because Barber performed about three percent better than voter registration numbers at the time of the election. In addition, nearly 4,000 voters split their ballots – meaning they voted for the Republican choice for president but voted Democratic for Congress.
9th Congressional District:
The new 9th Congressional District was redrawn to, according to performance models, have near-even odds for Republican and Democratic candidates. But Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema took all but one precinct where registration numbers between Republican and Democratic registration were within five percentage points.
Opposition to Proposition 121, which would have sent the top two candidates, according to votes, to the general election regardless of party affiliation, was highest among registered Republicans. Democrats, the data explained, largely opposed the measure. Support for the proposition was strongest with those unaffiliated with either political party.
Data showed that Proposition 204, which was designed to put increased funding into Arizona schools through a penny sales tax, was strongly opposed by Republicans and in general saw greater enthusiasm for voting on the measure.
In Arizona’s House of Representatives, a tactic known as the “single-shot,” where political parties run one candidate instead of two for both available seats in each district, the result can sometimes mean a win instead of two losses. The analysis explains how candidates in Legislative Districts 28 and 9 did just that.
The U.S. Senate race was close, showing over-performances by each candidate. Even though Democratic candidate Richard Carmona lost the race, data explains how he could be a viable candidate in the future. In fact, Carmona had the strongest showing by any Arizona Democrat since 1988.