Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualization

Perception and Thematic Map Symbol Design II

4108.4 - Could the outcome of the 2016 US elections have been predicted from past voting patterns?

Tuesday, July 4
9:30 AM - 9:50 AM
Location: Maryland C

In South Africa, a team of analysts has for some years been using statistical techniques to predict election outcomes during election nights in South Africa. The prediction method involves using statistical clusters based on past voting patterns to predict final election outcomes, using a small number of released vote counts. With the US presidential elections in November 2016 hitting the global media headlines during the time period directly after successful predictions were done for the South African elections, the team decided to investigate adapting their method to forecast the final outcome in the US elections. In particular, it was felt that the time zone differences between states would affect the time at which results are released and thereby provide a window of opportunity for doing elec-tion night prediction using only the early results from the eastern side of the US. Testing the method on the US presidential elections would have two advantages: it would determine whether the core methodology could be generalised, and whether it would work to include a stronger spatial element in the modelling, since the early results released would be spatially biased due to time zone differences. This paper presents a high-level view of the overall methodology and how it was adapted to predict the results of the US presidential elections. A discussion on the clustering of spatial units within the US is also provided and the spatial distribu-tion of results together with the Electoral College prediction results from both a ‘test-run’ and the final 2016 presidential elections are given and analysed.

Peter Schmitz

Principal Researcher
CSIR Built Environment

Dr Peter Schmitz holds a PhD in Geography and a BSc (Hons) degree in Geoinformatics and works ate the CSIR in South Africa. He is active in geospatial analysis and forensic geography. He is also active in logistics specialising in supply chains for the military and spatial data as well as in forensic geoscience. He has been part of the CSIR team that did the election-night forecasting at national and local municipal elections since 1999.He is currently the commission chair of the ICA Commission on Map Production and Geoinformation Management.


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Claudia R. Sluter

Federal University of Parana - UFPR

Bachelor at Cartographic Engineering from Federal University of Paraná - UFPR (1986). Master at Geodetic Science from Federal University of Paraná - UFPR (1993). Doctorate at Computer Science from National Institute for Space Research - INPE (2000). Sandwich doctorate at Geography Department of the University of Kansas (1998). I am currently full professor at Federal University of Paraná - UFPR. I teach and research on the following subjects: geovisualization, thematic mapping, cartographic generalization, topographic mapping, interactive map design, and GIS.


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4108.4 - Could the outcome of the 2016 US elections have been predicted from past voting patterns?

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