By Jenny Connelly-Bowen, CBN Graduate Research Assistant

Today, we’re sharing maps that examine voter turnout in our region for the November 2016 general election. These were compiled by Paul Fehler of Missouri Wonk, a St. Louis-based policy consulting and data analytics firm. Paul has a degree in Geography with an emphasis in GIS, demography, and spatial statistics from the University of Missouri. He serves as the Democratic Committeeman for St. Louis City’s 8th Ward.

Voter behavior patterns observed across the country in November were undoubtedly influenced by many factors—as outlined here by PBS—and post-election analysis is far from complete. In general, a variety of issues can affect whether and how people exercise their right to vote. The differences between rural and urban voters in the 2016 general election has drawn significant attention, though, and could be an especially important trend to explore. It has partisan implications (as reviewed here by The New York Times and here by NPR), but it might have touched voter turnout last year, too. As Ohio Northern University professor Robert Alexander remarked to PBS on November 20th: “You saw turnout spike in more rural counties. If you take a look at a lot of the larger cities you did see depressed turnout there. It certainly was more consequential for Hillary Clinton than it was for Trump.”

What did voter turnout look like in Missouri in November? Data from the United States Election Project suggests that in the aggregate, turnout was similar to what it was four years ago: in 2012, 62.2 percent of the voting-eligible population (VEP) and 59.6 of the voting-age population (VAP) voted. In 2016, Missouri saw 62.1 percent VEP turnout and 59.5 VAP turnout.

Paul’s maps shed light on how Missouri voter turnout was distributed at a more granular level. His methodology is described in further detail on the second map. The first map is a cartogram—it “intentionally distorts shape and area to better visualize population” (Paul’s explanation). In this case, the size of the county is proportional to its population. (This interesting column from Curbed on the general election’s rural-urban divide begins with its own cartogram of the entire United States.)

The following map reviews voter turnout by county across the state of Missouri:

 

Missouri Voter Turnout by County

 

Here, we can see that urban areas like St. Louis City and Kansas City balloon in proportion to their dense populations, but also display the lowest voter turnout (50 – 57.9 percent). In many smaller, less populous counties, voter turnout was much higher.

The second map below examines voter turnout by ward in St. Louis City. This data was pulled from the November 8th, 2016 General Election Unofficial Ward by Ward Results report (PDF document) on the St. Louis City Board of Elections Commissioners’ webpage. Here, we can see that wards in South City had the highest proportional turnout, with somewhat lower turnout in North City and the Central Corridor:

 

STL Voter Turnout by Ward

 

If you would like more information about how these maps were compiled, please contact us at cbn@umsl.edu.

To access maps from previous editions of the Community Builders Exchange, click here.