Saturday, November 08, 2008

Political Geography in the 2008 Election

"We are not nor have we ever been a collection
of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be,
the United States of America.

Well maybe. But that doesn't make us purple states either.
Excluding Alaska and Hawaii, this is the image our Electoral College painted in 2008:
A cartogram is a map in which some thematic mapping variable is substituted for land area. The geometry or space of the map is distorted in order to convey the information of this alternate variable.

In a cartogram cast by Mark Newman, in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population, the Electoral College appears differently.
That is, states are drawn with size proportional not to their acreage but to the number of their inhabitants, states with more people appearing larger than states with fewer, regardless of their actual area on the ground.
Thus Rhode Island, appears about twice the size of Wyoming, which is 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island. Thusly (click to enlarge):
Looking at a county-by-county map which reflects percentages (not winner-take-all) of results, our USA looks like this (click to enlarge):But if you display counties by population instead of acreage, you get quite a different image (click to enlarge):

I'm not sure how others would characterize this, but I wouldn't call it a United America.