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]
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.
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.
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.
The New York Timesmaps 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 Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. “[A]n examination of the geographical concentration of support for Donald Trump in the presidential primaries indicates a negative correlation between the number of Trump supporters and the population size of Mexican immigrants, as well as a negative correlation between Trump support and import competition from Mexico or China. […] In fact, only 2% of U.S. counties in the U.S. actually fit the Trump narrative of very high Trump support combined with very high levels of immigration or trade.” [CityLab]
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 vote—1 in 13!—because of same. When, as the Times says, “[a] black person is more likely to be convicted of a felony than a white person who committed the same crime,” this has the smell of systemic, targeted disenfranchisement to me.
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.