A full explanation is below the chart.
In short, the percentages of Democrat votes for the 2002 Governor’s race and the 2006 Lt. Governor’s race are averaged for each county, and the same is done for Republican votes. Those percentages are compared to how the state voted as a whole in those two elections.
Example: In the two races of the 2002 Governor’s race and 2006 Lt. Governor’s race, Houston County voted Republican 14 percentage points higher (on average) than the state as a whole (on average).
- The goal is to show, relative to the whole state, how strong a county’s underlying partisan preference is by comparing how the county voted (Democrat or Republican) to how the state voted as a whole in 2002 and 2006 state elections.
- The initial idea was to look at how the state voted in the 2002 and 2006 elections for governor, and compare that to how each county voted in those elections.
- Someone (in GOP circles, fwiw) suggested that I not use the 2006 governor’s race in the measure because Riley in 2006 pulled a lot of votes (for example, from the African-American community) that do not typically go to Republicans. This person suggested that voting results from the 2006 Lt. Governor’s race might be more informative about how voters tend to break by party. I offer the observation that this suggestion fits with the widely held notion that the Governor doesn’t have coattails; some people are voting for the Governor but are not voting for other Republicans down the ticket.
Another friend to the Parlor noted approvingly that by using the 2002 Governor’s race and the 2006 Lt. Governor’s race, four candidates are involved. This could help downplay any skew that we might get from geography. If we used both elections for governor in this measure, then perhaps Riley’s home of Clay County would skew Republican a little more than it otherwise would. The goal here is to look at the underlying partisan preference.
- Introducing… the Parlor Political Index. Here’s how it is figured.
The results from the 2002 governor’s race and the 2006 lt. governor’s race are averaged by party. The same is done for each county. If a county is scored “D+3” in the index, that means the county voted Democratic 3 percentage points higher than the state did as a whole in those two elections. “R+12” would mean that the county voted Republican 12 points higher than the state did as a whole in those two elections.
You may download an Excel spreadsheet that shows the calculations.