Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blue States, Red States, and Misleading Maps

It looks like the United States aren't as divided as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. would have us believe. Whether intentionally or not, the coverage of election/post-election demographics has been misleading. Specifically, the constant screen-flashing of the "red state blue state"-results map is a diservice to Americans. It leaves one with the impression that Bush won by some kind of landslide, Kerry supporters exist only on the fringe, conservatives own the "heartland," while liberals own the coast. These things, while widely accepted now, are gross oversimplifications. Compare the "red state blue state" map to the much more accurate representations (with descriptions) below:

The basic "red state blue state" map

This cartogram sizes the states/counties according to population instead of land (much more useful for voting conceptualization).

This map breaks the voting down by county and uses color gradation to reflect each county's political makeup and balance.

So here's what we really look like. When we take both population proportions and victory margins into account - we're... purple. This is, perhaps, the most accurate illustration of what U.S. voting "looks like." Contrast this with the "red state blue state" map, used by pundits to entrench us all in a belief of our "division." While no one is denying that some level of division exists, it's pretty clear that the "news" is not giving consumers even a remotely fair picture of political demographics.

Click on the title to this post for the source of these maps and in-depth analysis (A University of Michigan Website).


Blogger Matt said...

In other words, Bush won only by 51%... I think we already knew this. :)

I'm sure these maps make people feel a little better about this past election... that is until they remember that 51% is still a W in W's column. (... ok... ok... horrible pun!)

Seriously though, we all recognize that the nation is pretty split. You look at some states Bush took and it was split down the middle, as were some states that Kerry took, though the respective states still fell in "Red" or "Blue" columns. I don't expect this too change any time soon.

However, even the Democrats pet rant of it being time to do away with the electoral college would not have changed the result of this election (which, btw, I would consider a nightmare... it would rob less fortunate states, such as WY, UT, HI, etc. of some of their current voice in national elections).

I did see an interesting analysis of county by county popular voting from the presidential election recently, and in that count Bush squashed Kerry. My point in bringing this up is that this can be sliced and diced in a million ways, all of which, in this recent election would put a W in Bush's column.

12/15/2004 9:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home