2020 precinct analysis: Introduction and overview

So I finally got a full canvass of the 2020 election in a nice and convenient spreadsheet form. I spent a fair amount of the Thanksgiving week doing what I usually do with it, to generate totals for all of the political districts. I also managed to find the spreadsheets I had done in 2012 and 2016, and generated some year-over-year comparisons. I also used the city proposition data from 2012 to separate out city of Houston returns from non-Houston Harris County for 2020.

There’s a lot of data here, is what I’m saying. Generating it is actually the easy part. I’ve been doing this for a long time – in this format, since at least 2008 – and it’s just a matter of lining everything up and applying the same Excel formulas as before. (I make heavy use of the “sumif” function, if you’re curious.) The challenge for me is in how to present what I generate. Well, the first challenge is in trying to figure out what it means, what is interesting or notable, what will make for a readable blog post, and then I have to figure out how to present it.

Again, the challenge here is not technical – I’ve done this before, many times – but philosophical. What pieces belong together? What comparisons do I want to make? What’s worth my time and effort, and yours?

You can judge for yourself how well I answer those questions. Here’s a list of the topics I intend to cover, in something approximating the order in which I’ll present them:

– Results by Congressional district, for President, Senate, and Railroad Commissioner. I’m using those three races in part because they’re the top of the ticket, in part because they’re the races most affected by the presence of third-party candidates, and in part because they offer some interesting points of comparison with 2012 and 2016. I will do separate posts on the judicial races, separating out the statewide, appellate, and district/county court races. I’ve often used the averages of local judicial races to measure partisan levels in various districts, but I want to see what differences exist when we look at the other types of judicial races.

I’ve always done Congressional district results in the past, but they were more ornamentation than substance. In part that’s because there wasn’t much to say about the Congressional districts before 2016, as none of them were drawn to be competitive, and in part because only some of them are fully within Harris County. With CDs 02 and 07 becoming multi-million dollar battlegrounds (also true for CDs 10 and 22, though as noted we only have partial data for these), and with redistricting on the horizon, I wanted to take a closer look at these districts.

– Results by State Rep districts, by Commissioners Court precincts, and by JP/Constable precincts. Same as above in terms of format and intent. The State Rep districts are my main currency in these analyses, because they are entirely contained within Harris County (something I hope will still be true post-redistricting) and because there have been some massive changes in them over time. I already know I’ll have a lot to say here.

– Judicial races as noted above, by type (state, appellate, local), and for all district types. While I use the local judicial averages as my overall expression for a given district’s partisan numbers, there’s some real variance in these races, and I want to examine that in some detail.

– Comparisons with 2012 and 2016. I’ve talked about this some before, but if the only point of comparison we emphasize this year is with 2018, we’re missing a lot of the forest for the trees. I can’t stress enough how much things have changed since 2012, but I’m going to try to show you. I will focus most of this on the State Rep districts, but will include some Congressional comparisons to highlight where the redistricting challenges will be.

– Whatever else comes up along the way. I’ve got city/county numbers, which will get its own post. I’ve looked at undervoting and third-party voting in the past, and may do something on that. I always find things I didn’t notice at first when I really dig into the data. If there’s something you’d like me to try to analyze, please let me know.

That’s what I’ve got so far. This will be several weeks’ worth of posts, so sit back and relax, it’s going to take some time. Let me know what you think.

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8 Responses to 2020 precinct analysis: Introduction and overview

  1. Jen says:

    I don’t know to what extent the proposed analysis will show the minority participation in 2020. A story I saw from Channel 13 pre-election showed depressed minority turnout with respect to 2016 for the early vote.

  2. Jen says:

    I found the story, here is the link–remember this is for the early vote:
    From the story: “When looking at the race and ethnicity of residents in each precinct, 13 Investigates’ analysis of voter data found only 43% of registered voters cast a ballot in communities where more than half the 20-plus population is Hispanic. The Census demographics we analyzed provide population totals by age in five-year increments, which is why we looked at populations 20 years and older versus 18 years and older.

    13 Investigates conducted a similar analysis of communities by race and found only 47% of registered voters cast a ballot in communities that are majority African-American, compared to 57% of registered voters early voting in majority white neighborhoods.”

  3. Jen, I wrote about early voting turnout during the EV period, as we did have that data on a precinct level. I may discuss final turnout levels as part of this, but you can see it for yourself in the election archives on harrisvotes.com – the final November 2020 data is there now.

  4. Jen says:

    My point was, if minority turnout in Harris County is going nowhere, then so is hope for a blue Texas.

  5. Pingback: Precinct analysis: Congressional districts – Off the Kuff

  6. Pingback: Precinct analysis: State Rep districts – Off the Kuff

  7. Pingback: Precinct analysis: Commissioners Court and JP/Constable precincts – Off the Kuff

  8. Pingback: Precinct analysis: Comparing to 2012 and 2016 – Off the Kuff

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