This week, Economic & Political Weekly publishes the first thorough empirical application of my namematching algorithm: an exploration of the spatial variation of the "Muslim vote" in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections, which I have written with Raheel Dhattiwala (from the University of South Australia, and formerly Oxford), following up on Raheel's considerable research on Gujarat and my own earlier work on elections in UP. A postprint of our article is archived HERE, with the original version on the journal website:

Raphael Susewind, & Raheel Dhattiwala (2014). Spatial Variation in the 'Muslim Vote' in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, 2014 Economic & Political Weekly, 49 (39), 99-110

There was a time in the 1990s when political commentators joked about Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his attempts to woo Muslim voters by calling him a "Maulana", an Islamic scholar. With the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the talk of "Muslim vote banks" returned with vehemence - and many political observers attributed the clear SP victory to a "return" of Muslims to the party. In their surveys, political scientists did, however, not find any evidence for such a return (see here and here).

In today's blog - based on a draft paper I presented last week at Aligarh Muslim University - I argue that this contradiction might be resolved through closer attention to the local level. Based on my work with electoral roll data (see here, here and there), I unpack the "Muslim vote" hypothesis at the example of urban Lucknow. There, Muslims indeed voted more for SP - but not more than they always did (which might be different at different times, in other parts of Uttar Pradesh, or even in rural parts of Lucknow). This localized perspective nicely complements, but also complicates, existing assesments of the "Muslim vote". Since I am currently broadening the analysis to the whole of Uttar Pradesh, today's post is thus also an appetizer for a larger argument in the making.

After my first experimental population map of Lucknow I am now embarking on more serious business: today I will attempt to map political strongholds in town. Where are the firm support bases of the four major parties of Uttar Pradesh - Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?1 To me and many others (including the parties), this question became particularly interesting after the assembly elections earlier this year, in which the traditionally BJP-affine capital city almost wholly embraced SP candidates in a surprise landslide. Pockets of stability within this major sweep, so my contention, would surely signal some sort of stronghold. Let's see if we can find these pockets...

As a data basis for the following maps, I obtained the locations of each polling booth in Lucknow from the National Informatics Center and calculated the areas they serve using a simple Voronoi transformation (after some necessary data cleanup). I then meshed in booth-wise results for both the 2012 assembly elections and the 2009 parliamentary elections, obtained from the Chief Electoral Officer of UP. Finally, I added last week's river (in blue), my own home (red dot), and the MODIS built-up area polygon to beautify the map somewhat.

  • 1. I am only interested in the four major parties against each other; the following map does not show other candidates (though they may have gotten a sizeable voteshare).