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Social Explorer Partners With New York Times To Provide Dynamic Election Insights

WEDNESDAY, NOV 04, 2020

As part of its ongoing effort to provide invaluable background to analysis of the 2020 U.S. elections, Social Explorer is working with the New York Times to add exclusive demographic data to precinct-level returns.

The demographic data is considered especially valuable during the current election cycle because of the vast number of mailed-in and absentee ballots that undercut the usefulness of exit polls traditionally taken only on Election Day.

“We’re proud to be working with the New York Times and believe our efforts will enrich America’s understanding of how this election was decided,” said Andrew Beveridge, president and co-founder of Social Explorer. “We’ll be continuously updating our data to provide quick, accurate and deep understanding of the trends that are shaping the nation’s political future.”

Providing reasonably current, precinct-level demographic information is a painstaking process that requires a deep knowledge of Census geography. The U.S. Census Bureau last distributed precinct-level data during the 2010 headcount. 

Social Explorer, however, used figures from the most recent five-year American Community Survey to allocate demographic data from the nation’s 74,100 Census tracts to its 177,800 individual voting precincts. 

The task was complicated by a quirk of Census geography: Voting districts are drawn using the nation’s 11.1 million Census blocks, which aren’t included in the American Community Survey. Tracts, which are included in the American Community Survey, also are composed of Census blocks, but often cross voting district lines. 

The Social Explorer effort used blocks to define voting districts and then allocated data from the tracts that included blocks to the voting districts in Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. In Georgia, for example, Social Explorer’s analysis found a tight cluster of voting districts that supported former Vice President Joe Biden in the urban heart of Atlanta; the support dissipated outward in the suburbs, with voters more inclined to support President Donald Trump.

Social Explorer data also showed a strengthening of Trump support in traditionally Democratic regions of North Carolina, where the president was clinging to a narrow lead late this week. It also confirmed that Cuban-American strongholds in Miami-Dade County provided overwhelming support for Trump that offset heavy losses in other parts of Florida and kept his re-election hopes alive with an additional 29 Electoral College votes. 

“We’re proud to be partners with the nation’s leading newspaper,” said Beveridge, “and we hope to continue to develop insights into the 2020 election with cutting-edge analyses that shed more light on not just the results of the election, but the reasons for the results.”

Social Explorer is currently working with the New York Times to provide more demographic data for heavily contested precincts in Pennsylvania and Maricopa County, Arizona. 

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