An Election Story for Those Who Like To Watch

Where you live, how you vote.
Oct. 21 2008 8:05 PM

An Election Story for Those Who Like To Watch

Enough already with the words. Think of this as The Big Sort scorecard for the election, several different ways of seeing how the geographic clustering of like-minded citizens plays out in presidential elections.

First, the sort itself . Here we compare the "landslide counties" in the 1976 and 2004 elections. (Landslide counties are those in which one candidate won by 20 percentage points or more, counting only Republican and Democratic votes.) Both '76 and '04 were close contests, but the distribution of the vote changed dramatically over those 28 years.

In 1976, 26.8 percent of voters lived in a landslide county. (Democratic landslide counties are in black; Republican landslides are gray.) In close elections, the percentage of voters living in landslide counties rose steadily. By 2004, 48.3 percent of voters lived in a county where the contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry wasn't close at all. About six of every 10 counties were won by landslide margins in '04.

/blogs/bigsort/2008/10/21/an_election_story_for_those_who_like_to_watch/jcr:content/body/slate_image
Advertisement

/blogs/bigsort/2008/10/21/an_election_story_for_those_who_like_to_watch/jcr:content/body/slate_image0

In 1976, Democrats won the vote in rural America. Bill Clinton broke even in rural America in 1996, and then rural counties went solidly Republican. So did the exurbs. Cities—particularly cities that produced loads of technology and patents—swerved Democratic.

Basically, the more dense the population, the greater the Democratic vote.

One way to track the election is by this rural/exurban/urban breakdown in each state. Thanks to Tim Murphy and the Daily Yonder , we do that in the chart below for the 2004 election. You can see that rural and exurban votes were essential to President Bush's victory.

(For those who wonder about such things, "rural" here are what the OMB and the census classify as "non-metro." "Urban" counties are called "metro" by the feds. Geographer Tim Murphy created an "exurban" category from "metro" counties where 40 percent to 50 percent of the residents live in rural settings. On the bottom line, you can see that rural counties had 17.4 percent of the vote, exurban counties had 9.2 percent of the vote, and urban counties had 73.4 percent of the vote.)



Given The New Yorker 's recent interest in the political significance of ancestry, I wondered why we shouldn't  go straight to the source. This map comes from our friends at the U.S. Census. It shows the ancestry group with the largest population in each county. (Ancestry is self-reported.) It's sort of fun to switch back and forth between the 2004 landslide map and the ancestry map. You can see that Democrats didn't do well where the dominant ancestry group was "American." Maybe these are the folks Gov. Sarah Palin had in mind .

/blogs/bigsort/2008/10/21/an_election_story_for_those_who_like_to_watch/jcr:content/body/slate_image1

/blogs/bigsort/2008/10/21/an_election_story_for_those_who_like_to_watch/jcr:content/body/slate_image2

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 5:19 PM Washington’s Acting Roles
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.