Friday, November 7, 2008

The war for your mind - election results

Now that the election is over we'll start seeing a lot of analysis. Most of us will see maps that look like this:
This is the map we're use to. Red States and Blue States. And by all appearances it looks as if the country is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

There is a problem with this map however; it only colors the states and fails to actually capture the population of the United States.

If we wanted to look at a map that was weighted for population, it would look like this (it's called a cartogram):

Cartograms redraw the states based on the actual population that lives in the state. As you can see, the Washington DC is actually larger than several western states, such as Wyoming. So in the war for your mind be aware of this.

So that's the first step in understanding how we become conditioned to being divided. Still, it's misleading. I know people voted for McCain in California and I know people voted for Obama in Texas. How do we reconcile this?
We could look at a map that would break out the votes by county:
We can see that there are red parts of blue states and blue parts of red states. This map looks awash in red. How on earth did McCain lose? Obviously the election had to have been stolen.

Well, again we've run into a rural versus urban problem. More people live in cities than they do in the country.

What does the map start to look like if we adjust it for population by county?

OK, so there are large swaths of blue in the northeast, the west coast and the great lakes regions. No surprise that we have major cities in those areas.

Also, if you look at the heartland, you begin to see where major cities are located. Was Sarah Palin right when she divided up the country into 'real' America and 'fake' America? I think that was a poor choice of words, but was she onto something between rural and urban voters?

Political operatives have noticed this for a long time and pay attention to such. But still... something doesn't fee quite right does it? Driving around my town I see both McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden signs in people yards. So we don't even really vote by county block. Really we need a map that helps us see the nuance at the local level. How about this?

There. Much better. Obviously the more red the more Republican voters and the more blue the more Democrats.

In this map we can certainly see strongholds of red and blue, but we also start to see alot more shades of purple. And of course, this map has not been adjusted for population.

That would be a mess. One big beautiful swirling blob of red and blue and purple. It is alot easier to control a people when they are divided. And dividing us up isn't as simple as it appears to be.

I am not suggesting for one second that there aren't real differences between the candidates, their idology or emphasis. There are.

What I'm suggesting is that we are alot more complicated than the traditional Red and Blue state maps make us out to be.

And we haven't even begun to examine individuals who like parts of both parties platforms. For example, what about a person who sees themselves as pro-life but but is anti-gun? Or for the second amendment but supports a woman's right to choose? I'd respectfully suggest that there is a lot more complexity in the mix than any pundant would like to admit.

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