Race And Age In America

Like it or not, a person’s age and race play huge roles in determining how they might vote on a specific candidate or certain issue.  And while we’ll leave it to sociologists enlighten us as to why that is the case – it’s important not to discount how these and other determining factors impact outcomes at the ballot box.  It’s also important to assess what methods or messages can be employed to maximize – or minimize – these impacts.

Breaking down demographics is central to our work here at Market Research Foundation (MRF).  Just click through a few of the articles on this website and you’ll see multiple references to the “percentage of black voters” or the “number of young voters” or the “habits of white voters” or the “trends of older voters.”  And ask any organization modeling likely voters for an upcoming poll or grassroots election effort and they’ll tell you: Age and race matter.

The first step in that process?  Determining a baseline for these specific demographics – which is where a new interactive feature from Brookings.edu comes into play.  Using 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the interactive map highlights the racial composition – and age breakdown – of every single county in the United States, providing regional, state and national demographers with an incredibly useful visual tool.

For example it shows where black voters are most concentrated …

(Click to enlarge)

black voters

(Map: Via)

And where Hispanic voters are most concentrated …

(Click to enlarge)

hispanic voters

(Map: Via)

The map’s interactive feature also enables users to mix and match categories – letting them compare different age ranges with different racial breakdowns in each county.

Pretty nifty, huh?

Obviously interactive maps like this can always be improved upon.  For example, data from prior Census surveys could be uploaded in an effort to show shifts in age and race.  Meanwhile county-wide historical electoral data – such as is found on Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas could be incorporated.  And of course regional and local candidates and campaigns would need to see all of this information broken down by precinct, not just by county.

Still, this map represents a nice baseline from which to begin an examination of how ages and races are distributed across America.