Social Demographics and Election Statistics

About | K-12 Objectives | Materials Needed | Procedures | Assessment | Related Resources | PDF Version

Procedures:

Step 1 Students will use data from the National Election Studies. Have students open an Excel spreadsheets with the data on presidential elections. This will load in your browser as an Excel file if you are using Internet Explorer 4.0.

All numbers are percentages of the total number of votes cast by people in the demographic category. For example, in the 1952 election fifty-one percent of grade school educated voters voted for Eisenhower (R) and forty-nine percent of grade school educated voters voted for Stevenson (D).

Step 2 Next, students should calculate the following averages.

• The percentage of votes cast by African Americans for Democratic candidates for president from 1952 - 1976.
• The percentage of votes cast by African Americans for Republican candidates for president from 1952 - 1976.

How to calculate averages

• Insert the demographic category you are calculating below the bottom row. For example type "AAD vote" (AAD stands for African American Democrat) in cell A20.
• To calculate an average, click the cell where the average will be displayed. For example click cell "B20." With the cell displayed, click the equal (=) sign just above the chart.
• Next click on the "Average" button on the pull down menu to the left of the equal button. A box will appear.
• Next to number 1 enter the range of cells for the percentages you want to average. For the Democrats B12:H12.
• Click OK.
• Repeat the steps above for Republican candidates.

Step 3 Next, have students create a chart (graph) that answers the following question.

• How did African American voting patterns change from 1952 to 1976?

How to make a simple Excel chart (use the data on sheet 1):

• Highlight the row with the data you wish to chart. For example highlight from A12 to P12.
• Highlight the row with the names of the data in the columns. To highlight a second row press and hold the control button. For example highlight from A2 to P2.
• Click the chart button on the tool bar or pull down the insert menu and click chart
• A box will appear allowing you to choose the type of chart. Select column and click next.
• The next screen is a verification of the data to be charted. If you highlighted the row before making the chart, the data range should be complete. Click next.
• Label the chart and axis. The x axis is the election year. The y axis is the percent of total African American vote. Click next.
• The last box is a confirmation, click finished.

The chart students make will not indicate the election year on the x axis. This can be entered manually. There are numerous display options for the data. Encourage students to experiment. For example, place the pointer on one of the bars, double click. In the window, click the series order tab. Rearrange the series (election years by party) so that the odd numbers and the even numbers are separate. This will display the elections results by party next to each other on the graph.

Step 4 Using the student created spreadsheet and chart, describe and explain African American voting patterns between 1952 and 1976.

Step 5 Repeat the steps for making a graph for other demographic comparisons such as, the percentage of votes cast by people living in urban areas for Democratic candidates for president from 1952 - 1976.

Center for Technology and Teacher Education, University of Virginia, This module was created by John K. Lee University of Virginia