Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
And other patterns from a new Election Atlas of New York voting results.
The last time Anthony Weiner ran for mayor of New York City, back in the 2005 Democratic primary, he fared relatively well in the parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn that overlay on demographic maps of the city with predominantly white, upper-income census tracts. He did even better in the corners of Brooklyn and Queens that belonged to his former Congressional district. And, curiously, he was popular with Democratic voters in the more heavily Republican southern part of Staten Island.
Here, the results of that election have been plotted by the new NYC Election Atlas project from the CUNY Graduate Center, the university's Graduate School of Journalism and its Center for Community and Ethnic Media:
For obvious reasons, Weiner is something of an outlier in the city's next mayoral primary less than a month away. A few things have changed for the guy since 2005. But if you're a political nerd in New York City (or if you're fascinated from afar by the city's first Bloomberg-less mayoral race in more than decade), it's interesting to note who voted for him in the past.
"When he ran in the Democratic primary for mayor in 2005, first of all that was eight years ago, second of all that was before all of this craziness happened," says Steven Romalewski, the director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the Graduate Center's Center for Urban Research. He concedes that the whole sexting thing has put Weiner in a different light. "So who knows how the voters will react. But by looking at the vote patterns, you can at least get a sense of – all else being equal – how [past candidates] did then, how those patterns relate to the city’s current demographics and other characteristics, and therefor what might happen this time around."
In fact, four of the seven Democratic candidates for mayor on the ballot Sept. 10 have previously run for a citywide office, creating a voting trail for how different pockets of the city felt at one point about each of them. The Election Atlas has mapped all of that data, alongside household income, occupations, and race and ethnicity across the city. The result isn't meant to be a predictive model for the coming election. But the tool adds a fine-grained, historical picture to the latest polling data, and it gives the public (and local journalists) the kind of sophisticated demographic tool that campaigns have at their disposal.
"Not to be immodest," Romalewski says. "But it might be more sophisticated."
Typically, general, primary, and runoff election results like this exist at the Election District level (there are bout 6,000 such units citywide). The Election Atlas has recalculated that data down to the census block (of which there are some 30,000 in the city). So you can compare that above Weiner map from 2005 to Bill de Blasio's 2009 primary when he ran for public advocate (Queens really didn't like the guy):
"Usually, the prism that people use to look at voting in New York City is through race, or race and ethnicity," Romalewski says. "That is a very important prism, and it factors in heavily in terms of how people might tend to vote. But it’s not the only one."
Consider, for instance, Obama's appeal in the 2008 general election as the nation's would-be first black president:
One year later, black mayoral candidate Bill Thompson fared quite differently, suggesting that race played a different role in his race:
These maps contain no great secret to who will succeed Bloomberg this fall. And the tool is limited in that several mayoral candidates – including the current front-runner, Christine Quinn – have never run for citywide office before, and so comparable data doesn't exist for them. But if you'd like to know why, say, Anthony Weiner thinks it's still worth spending time campaigning in that one pocket of Queens, the Election Atlas might know.