A category for each congressional district by density, on a spectrum from rural to urban.
The CityLab Congressional Density Index classification for all 435 U.S. House Districts. David H. Montgomery/CityLab

A new way to categorize all 435 U.S. congressional districts by their density, on a spectrum from rural to urban.


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Americans are increasingly divided by density, with rural areas leaning Republican and urban areas voting Democrat. But when it comes to the battle for Congress, congressional districts are tricky to categorize. Encompassing hundreds of thousands of residents each, they often contain cities, farmland, and suburbs in varying mixtures.

So CityLab came up with the Congressional Density Index: a way to classify all 435 congressional districts by their makeup of different types of neighborhoods. This isn’t just a curiosity—looking at the House through the lens of the Congressional Density Index showed that Republican difficulties in 2018 were concentrated in suburban districts long before the votes were cast.

Want to learn more? Here are some quick links:

Here’s the full list of CityLab articles using the Congressional Density Index:

CityLab released the Congressional Density Index under the open-source MIT License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, which means anyone is free to use it provided you attribute CityLab and maintain this open license. A number of other analysts and publications have used the Congressional Density Index to explore the 2018 election, including the following articles:

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