Monday, January 26, 2009

Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates Over Time (Take 1)

NOTE: For an updated version (with better color-coding) please see here and for the full calendars in each of these election years, please see the left sidebar.

This weekend I put together a few maps for a job talk and class lecture I'm doing later this week on frontloading and thought I'd share them with everyone. The slideshow below has the states color-coded based on the month in which their delegate selection event occurred in the elections from 1976-2008. You'll see that some states are divided with two separate colors in some years. That reflects the different dates on which Democratic and Republican states held (in most cases) their respective caucuses. Though there are states that had primaries for one party and caucuses for the other. In those instances where the state is divided, the left half color corresponds to the Democratic contest date and the right color, the Republicans'.

When I get a chance, I'll post these in one of the sidebars so that they'll constantly be there for easy access.

Recent Posts:
New Jersey in 2012

Out of Committee and On to the Floor: Back to May for the Arkansas Presidential Primary

Illinois in 2012


MSS said...

Josh, the maps are very helpful and useful. (Did I ever mention that I like maps?)

Now, everyone is a critic, right? I could grasp the information faster if the color scheme followed some logical (to me) progression. Like light to dark green (or blue or whatever) from Jan. to June. Or if that's not enough shading, maybe starting with one dark color and then going all the way through to its complement on the color wheel.

Just a thought.

Good luck on the job talks!

S.D. said...

Josh, I'd echo what MSS said: the maps are great, but a more inuitive color scheme would go a long way. Six shades is probably a little hard to follow, but maybe you could just go through the spectrum: Red/January, Orange/February, Yellow/March, Green/April, Blue/May, Purple/June. I think that would especially highlight the major trends through time.

Also, I'd recommend getting rid of the black line splitting states with different dates for the two parties.

That being said, let me emphasize that these are minor quibbles. The maps are great as is.

Josh Putnam said...

Matthew and SD,
I agree with both of you. There likely should be a natural progression to the color scheme. The problem I've had with going from dark to light is that once you get past, say, three categories it gets progressively difficult to differentiate between color categories on a map. Your alternate suggestion may work, though. I'll play around with it some in the next week or two and try to come up with a better solution.

The black line is a necessity given the image editor I'm using or more precisely my limited knowledge of the image editor I'm using. I'll see what I can work out, but I won't make any promises on this one.

Thanks for the well wishes.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

I'll echo the kudos.

Now a question on the content. 1992 was one cycle where frontloading actually seemed to be reversed a bit. Any special reason for that?

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks Scott.

Most of the "backloading" in 1992 is due to several southern states moving back to their "original" primary dates after the failed experiment that was the Southern Super Tuesday (at least in the eyes of predominantly Democratic-controlled state legislatures/governments).

That's part of it. But their are a couple of other interesting points.

1) Kansas opted for a primary in 1992 and it happened to be in early April, later than the caucuses in 1988.

2) The GOP didn't have a fully competitive series of contests. Bush was challenged early on by Buchanan, but most of the caucus states moved into "protect the incumbent" mode, holding token, small-scale contests later in the calendar. The contests in that scenario are more party business functions than delegate selection events.