Thursday, November 13, 2008

Red and Blue all over

Journalists like to use the shorthand of red state/blue state to talk about the political leanings of different areas of the country, but I've always objected to the terminology.

It's a shorthand that doesn't respect the broad middle that makes up most of the political spectrum.

That's why I like this map so much, which shows 2008 county-by-county election data. Red is 100 percent Republican, blue is 100 percent Democratic, and purple is everything in between.

It's from Robert Vanderbei at Princeton and shows that even starkly partisan places like Texas are deeply purple. Sure, there are wide swaths of Utah, Nebraska and Kansas that are bright red, but the neither red nor blue dominates.

One more note: Barack Obama's win over John McCain is sometimes called a landslide in the press. Sure, the electoral count was lopsided, but the popular vote was about 52 percent for Obama and 46 percent for McCain.

That's like inviting 50 people to a party and having 26 say they like gin martinis and 23 say they like vodka martinis, with one left over who doesn't drink.

That's no landslide. That's an even split.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This chart reminds us that the nation's true colors look sort of gay.

November 13, 2008  
Anonymous nate "landslide" said...

well dave, that would be true in a very small sample, however, when you have 130 million people voting, its more like 67.6 million people enjoying vodka martinis and 59.8 million drinking gin martinis, thats a difference of almost 8 million people, or roughly, New York City.

i can taste that wine already.

November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Meredyth R said...

This map is interesting, but relying on it as an indicator of how much of the country voted one way or the other wouldn't be terribly accurate, since its colors are based on geography, not population. There's no way to account for huge population centers like San Antonio, which looks tiny and is a different color than its less populous sorroundings; or Wyoming, which looks pretty red and takes up a lot of space, but has like 12 registered voters. (Disclaimer: I'm from RI. We're a little blue dot, even though we have twice the population big, red Wyoming. My R.I. Napoleonic syndrome rears its head.)

November 13, 2008  
Blogger NaturalBlog said...

This is the map Meredyth is after.

November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Meredyth R said...

Yeah, that's the United States I know and love. BTW, I never wished Natural Blog a happy birthday. Three years, right? How 'bout that. I thought you were doomed earlier this fall, but I'm glad you've made it.

November 13, 2008  
Blogger Sebastian Dangerfield said...

It is a landslide because the United States use the electoral college. The popular vote is meaningless outside of salon conversations.

Who cares about how unpopular the Brown Decision was among the public when the Supreme Court issued their 9-0 ass-whipping?

December 01, 2008  

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