The map on the left above depicts the 2008 electoral vote distribution by state. The cartogram on the right resizes areas to correspond to population and depicts the county-by-county results of the 2008 election. Different, aren’t they? I think they form a nice illustration of the point that I was making in my “There Are No Red States. There Are No Blue States” post of last week. The image is sampled from a very interesting post at Reason.com.
The sharp edges of the map on the left are artifacts accompanied by a loss of precision. The cartogram is a more precise reflection of the reality of American politics but it isn’t precise, either. Real opinion is much more diverse and much more broadly distributed across the country than even the swirls of the cartogram reflect.
Did history begin in 2008? Why not take 2004 or 2000 as our benchmark? Here’s Robert Vanderbei’s animated graphic of presidential election results by county from 1960 to 2004:
You can click on the image for a larger version.
If there is an inexorable flow in human affairs, it is not discernable in the short term.