Monday, January 26, 2015

Spatial analysis on neighborhood effects and voter turn-out in College Station, Texas

     Through a spatial analysis of voter turnout and the " neighborhood effect" within College Station, TX, draws a relationship between voting at a precinct level with voters and nonvoters in three locations and the outcomes within their communities. The purpose of this spatial analysis is to examine the outcome of what happens within a local community (whether it be negative or positive) based on how socio-politically participatory the residents are. When analyzing three past referendums that were voted on within College Station, one in 1995 regarding a $10 million issuance for infrastructure in order to "reconstruct" the community, another in 1997 that initiated a prevention of construction of a City Convention Center, and one more in 1999 that was initiated in order to reopen a city street that was closed due to "the high nuisance through traffic."

           In 1995, the referendum initiated by the city council of College Station was the least cared about since it was the least controversial. Since it is completely appropriate to spend tax dollars on improvements around the city, there was no controversy. The referendum would be an overall improvement for everyone within the community making  a clear impact upon the voter turnout. Since the neighborhood effects would be an improvement overall, the voter turnout for the referendum to pass was the obvious winner.

                The results of the referendum initiated by voters in 1997 provide a more controversial argument due to a skeptical community regarding tax dollars going to a city convention center. Although the creation of the city convention center would stimulate economic growth and create new jobs, many residents argued against the city council. Many people opposed the convention center however; an equal amount of people favored as well. The referendum was passed as well but with a slimmer margin due to people being split upon the decision.

                The most controversial referendum in College Station was initiated in 1999 to force the city to reopen Munson Avenue. In order to greatly increase traffic on a street in one of the city's most attractive neighborhoods, many people argued back and forth opposing and in favor for the opening of the street Residents of Munson even being attacked by being called elitists by voters. Strong advertisement and media coverage opened this referendum to be a significance among all people within the community. The referendum, however, was passed "by a near 2-1 ratio" due to the strong media interest showing that Munson Avenue was perpendicular to the TAMU campus's south side. People in the voting precincts south of TAMU saw closing of Munson Avenue as a restriction of their traveling routes to TAMU. The voter turnout of this referendum was scattered and cluster which makes the effects of the neighborhood scattered and clustered as well.

                In conclusion, neighborhood effects in local politics are heavily influences by distribution of actual voters. The outcome among the community will be based on how many people oppose or favor what they want due each individual's self-interest.


  1. I really liked how you stated facts, and then backed it up with more information. really good work. I am impressed.

  2. Great pictures! I knew that GIS could be used to map things like voter turn out, really happy to see someone wrote about this

  3. I wonder how the fact that College Station is a college town influences voter turnout as well as what is voted for in the long-run. Are college voters more or less likely to be affected by the results of the votes and if so, are they likely to show up to vote? What decisions do affect college students and their willingness to participate in these decisions?

  4. I agree with Emily. I think this concept and use of GIS could be used successfully and influentially in future sociopolitical analyses. Additionally, I think it would be interesting to look at the socioeconomic status as well as the race and ethnicity of the districts. It would interesting to see who the legislation or other referendums benefitted most, in terms of neighborhood or socioeconomic status, and the impact on the political efficacy among socioeconomic statuses and other demographics within the area.

  5. I wonder if political leanings had anything to do with voter turnout. Did the article say anything about that?