PRESENTATION DATE: Thursday, November 6, 2014
TOPIC:Regions, Parties and Voting: Developing a Geographic Understanding of American Political History
Abstract: The first individuals elected to the United States Congress were Senators William MaClay and Robert Morris by the Pennsylvania legislature in September 1788. In November 1788, the eligible voters of South Carolina directly elected five members to the House of Representatives from five geographically defined congressional districts. These elections heralded the beginning of the world’s longest, continuously recorded, broad-based, democratic elections for a national legislative body. Elections to the United States Congress have always been geographically based. Members of the Senate come from the constituent states and virtually all members of the House have been elected from single member geographically defined districts. This presentation will examine the geographic aspects of congressional districts, congressional elections and congressional roll-call voting behavior. In addition, the spatial aspects of decennial apportionment and presidential elections will also be examined. The long-term research project in these areas have produced cartographic and digital data bases which did not previously exist. These data bases have facilitated a better geographic understanding of American political history.