Thursday, November 18, 2004

MAPPING OUR DIVISIONS

MAPPING OUR DIVISIONS

I recently read an article by Philip Kennicott on WashingtonPost.com that tried to examine the map we saw after Election Day two weeks ago. You know the map: It's blue on one side, blue on the other side, has a dab of blue at the top, and is red, red, red in the middle.

I remember thinking how misleading that map is, giving the impression by glance that a broad swath of the nation is Republican, when in fact, to be a red state, all that's needed is to get one more Republican vote than Democrat, and, out east, where the country's population is densest, an 80-20 pro-Democratic vote would show up as a little blue dot (e.g., the District of Columbia).

Thanks to this article (accompanied by its own unique map), I was able to find these maps produced by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan (though I gather their work is not university-funded or endorsed). They show what the states would look like if they were sized according to their electoral votes. They also do one better service: One of the maps they show displays shades of purple, to better reassure those of us in the 48% of the country whose candidate didn't win that the nation isn't quite the political divide that we fear it is.

Washington Post map only here.

University of Michigan maps only here.

USA Today map of counties only here.

Princeton map only here.

Blog devoted to "Votergate."

2 comments:

TWM said...

I like all those fancy little maps you put up, but other than showing us what a map looks like through the eyes of someone who might be "stoned", I am not sure what they prove.

The fact is over 60 million people voted for Bush compared to about 57 million for Kerry.

And while I suppose it is comforting for the Blues to see that there are blue areas in the red states . . . you can see that there are plenty of red areas in those blue states as well.

Mike said...

Yup, Bush did get 60 million votes, but he didn't beat Kerry 60 million to 10 million, which is how the GOP seems to be taking the election -- 'we have a mandate!' is its claim.

To look at a close election and believe that just because you won you've got the backing to impose your will over the minority is both an incorrect reading of the vote and an immoral use of power. (Cf., The Federalist Papers No. 51.)

The same is true of the basic map. A big chunk of red is vast, sparsely populated territory. Just because some fellow in Wyoming owns 2,000 acres of land doesn't mean his opinion is more valuable than mine, with a 5,000-square foot urban lot.