Monday, November 10, 2008

America's Political Cartography - What Does, White, Rural and Regional Really Look Like?

Okay, I wanted to be done with election posts, but I guess not. America is one warped and fucked up looking place. Especially when it comes to politics. CNN, MSNBC, and other major news outlets want you to think America looks like this:

The thing is, and it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to know this, that this is the grossest generalization of the political landscape. It actually looks like this:

No, it's not how Pangea would have voted in the 08 election. This is a University of Michigan cartogram, a thematic map where a variable (i.e. population) is substituted for land area (according to Wikipedia). In this case, counties are colored either red, blue or some shade of purple according to 2008 election returns, and then a cartogram is generated using population as the variable impacting land area.

You can read through the process here. See those mushed-up red areas? That's the "white, rural, regional" Republican part of the country - actually most of the landmass.

Clear as mud? Thought so. Look at California on the squishy map. Now look at the two HUGE areas of California - the Bay Area and LA. Both >70% Democrat. Same for New York City on the east coast. They pretty much determine where their respective states (and a lot of electoral votes) go. It's actually pretty easy if you read through the page, and it makes sense to my brain. I'd love to see it on an election night, though. I can see Wolf Blitzer now, "And this just in, CNN is calling Wyoming for - hey, where the f**k is Wyoming?"


Dawn on MDI said...

This is funny. I saw the map and thought "oh, man. a friend of mine just sent me that thing. Buncha boring data-speak. Bleah."

Well let me tell you, your explanation was far more entertaining that that other dry stuff, and the thought of Wolf Blitzer in that situation is hilarious! I'd love to see him fumble and freak like that just once.

Maps are very, very cool things, even when Dali draws them.

Julie said...

Aw, man! It's an angry psychedelic butterfly!

briwei said...

Don't believe the explanation. Look more closely. That's what the USA will look like when Cthulhu returns! Beware! Bewarrrrgh! *cough* *choke*

Dr. Momentum said...

Bri beat me to it!