The maps that appear from time to time on xkcd are usually a lot more whimsical than the one Randall posted today: his somewhat belated “2016 Election Map” assigns one figure for every 250,000 votes for each of the 2016 presidential election candidates. As Randall says in the alt text,1 “I like the idea of cartograms (distorted population maps), but I feel like in practice they often end up being the worst of both worlds—not great for showing geography OR counting people. And on top of that, they have all the problems of a chloro… chorophl… chloropet… map with areas colored in.” This is an issue that election map cartographers regularly have to deal with, as many of my readers know well.
We’ve seen a lot of maps correlating election results with other demographic or geographic data, but SurveyMonkey’s exit polling on the correlation between politics and gun ownership seems particularly stark, particularly in the context of recent events. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, nothing predicted who you’d vote for more than whether you had a gun in the house. If only gun-owners voted, Trump would have swept 49 states; if only non-gun-owners voted, Clinton would have won at least 48.
“Over all, gun-owning households (roughly a third in America) backed Mr. Trump by 63 percent to 31 percent, while households without guns backed Mrs. Clinton, 65 percent to 30 percent, according to SurveyMonkey data,” the New York Times reported. “No other demographic characteristic created such a consistent geographic split.”
Last month the New York Times mapped the U.S. cultural divide by looking at television viewing preferences. More precisely, the geographic distribution of viewership for the 50 most-liked TV shows. The correlation between Duck Dynasty fandom and voting for Trump was higher than for any other show. More surprisingly, the show most correlated with voting for Clinton? Family Guy.
Writing for the Portland Press-Herald, Colin Woodard compares the 2016 presidential election results to the eleven regional cultures he sets out in his 2011 book, American Nations. “The bottom line: the 2016 presidential election results exhibited the same regional patterning we’ve seen in virtually all competitive contests in our history, including those in 2008 and 2012. But by running on an unconventional platform, Donald Trump was able to erode his rival’s margins in certain nations.” He did better enough in rural Yankeedom and the Midlands to deny Clinton the victory in states she could not afford to lose. With plenty of maps to show the swing from the 2008 and 2012 votes. [Cartophilia]
Previously: Electoral Map What-Ifs.
Neil Freeman’s Random States of America creates election maps from an alternate reality. They apply real-world election results to randomly generated state boundaries, which can yield radically different results than what actually happened.
Taking things one step further, Josh Wallaert of Places asked Freeman “to calculate who would win the 2016 election if the states were redrawn under plausible scenarios.” The result is a collection of electoral might-have-beens based on familiar scenarios: Pearcy’s 38 states, Freeman’s 50 states with equal population, even the megaregions based on commuter data we saw earlier this month. Each map demonstrates that, under the U.S. system, who wins depends on where you draw the borders.
Mapping U.S. election results by county and state is a bit different than mapping results by electoral or congressional district, because counties and states don’t have (roughly) equal populations. Choropleth maps are often used to show the margin of victory, but to show the raw vote total, some election cartographers are going 3D.
Max Galka of Metrocosm has created an interactive 3D map of county-level results (above) using his Blueshift tool. The resulting map, called a prism map, uses height to show the number of votes cast in each county.
Maps need data. Election maps need election results. Data journalist Simon Rogers looks at the challenges of laying hands on open, publicly available county-level election results for use in election maps.
The New York Times has a first-rate graphics department, and they’ve come up with some stunning ways to depict the 2016 U.S. presidential election results. They updated their maps of so-called “landslide counties” (see previous entry), which was straightforward enough. Their feature on how Trump reshaped the election map, with arrows showing the county-by-county swing (red and to the right for Trump, blue and to the left for Clinton), was unexpectedly good. But their maps of the Two Americas (above), imagining Trump’s America and Clinton’s America as separate countries, with bodies of water replacing the areas won by their opponents—Trump’s America is nibbled at the edges by coastlines and pockmarked by lakes; Clinton’s is an archipelago—is quite simply a work of art. Incredible, incredible work.
I’ve delayed posting maps of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results because—well, because like many of you I’m still recovering. But here we go. We’ll start with Benjamin Hennig’s cartogram of the results which, as cartograms tend to do, correct for the urban concentrations that made up Hillary Clinton’s vote, and demonstrate the rural nature of Donald Trump’s support. See it at Geographical magazine and Hennig’s website.
While we wait for the results, think back, raise a glass, and remember fondly the meme that came and went so quickly a month or so ago: What if only … voted? Based on FiveThirtyEight maps showing the gender gap in voting intentions (What if only women voted? What if only men voted?) that quickly went viral, similar maps showing gap by race and education
As we approach the first election results of the evening, here are a few maps of the electorate that is doing the voting tonight.
The Washington Post maps the swing counties that could decide the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The New York Times maps the increasing number of so-called landslide counties—counties where a candidate won by 20 or more percentage points. “The proportion of voters living in landslide counties has steadily increased since 1992, a trend that reflects the growing tendency of like-minded people to live near one another, according to Bill Bishop, a co-author of ‘The Big Sort,’ a 2008 book that identified this phenomenon.”
Bad Hombres, China and Trump Supporters
For all of Donald Trump’s rhetoric about illegal Mexican immigration and competition from China, his supporters don’t seem to be much affected by either. That’s the conclusion of a study by Raul Hinojosa Ojeda of UCLA’s
The Mysterious Blue Curve
Geographical magazine explores what they call the “mysterious blue curve” —a narrow swath of Democratic support across the centre of the Deep South. I’ll save you a click: it’s where the African-American voters are concentrated. Geographical, though, goes a bit further back—to the fricking late Cretaceous—to explain why the soil in that area was so amenable to growing cotton, an activity that brought so many slaves to the area in the first place.
Felony Convictions and Voting Rights
Cards on the table: I live in a country where prisoners have the right to vote even while in prison, so the American practice—in 48 of 50 states—of not allowing ex-convicts to vote even after release is both alien and upsetting to me. The New York Times maps the impact of that practice, both in terms of how many people in each state can’t vote due to felony convictions, and in terms of how many African-American adults can’t
Martin Stabe of the Financial Times looks at the paper’s options for displaying the 2016 U.S. presidential results. Which to use, map or cartogram? In the end, neither: they’re going with a dot map—a compromise “that attempts to take the best from the other methods.”
The white underlying geographic map places states in their familiar size, shape and location, allowing them to be identified quickly. Using a cluster of dots rather than a solid fill to represent the outcome ensures that the amount of red and blue on the map accurately reflects states’ weight in the election outcome, rather than the (irrelevant) surface area.
Like the tiled grid cartogram, the number of electoral votes in each state is easy to compare visually without counting or interpreting numbers printed on the map. Because each electoral vote is a discrete mark, it is possible to accurately represent the split electoral votes that are possible in Maine and Nebraska, or the possibility of a faithless elector.
Technical details and source code here.
The Electionland Google Trends map visualizes voting issues during today’s electoral process. It’s based on real-time Google search interest (rather than actual reported problems) in five issues: inactive voter status, long wait times, provisional ballots, voting machine problems and voter intimidation. More about the map and how it works. [Maps Mania]