Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Interesting electoral maps

These electoral maps come from NYT (h/t David in NY at Matthew Yglesias' site).

The first map simply presents the counties where McCain-Palin gained a greater proportion of the vote than Bush-Cheney in 2004.

The second map adds to that the counties where Obama-Biden gained compared to their predecessors, Kerry-Edwards in 2004.

One thing that jumps out is the coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, which experienced a massive ethnic cleansing in the wake of the 2005 hurricane season. Not surprisingly, those areas went substantially more "red". We might also note how much more "red" parts of the Southeast US became, including northeast Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, northeast Mississippi, northern Alabama, the Florida panhandle, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky became. These areas are largely rural, mountainous (Appalachian and Ozark regions) parts of the old Confederacy - with the exception of Oklahoma, whose eastern portions are culturally very similar to the South. The Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, part of my region, barely changed one way or the other - I'm not sure we could really get more "red" to begin with, and given the influx of Hispanic peoples in our region, I'm going to guess as that more Hispanics become registered voters, the "redness" will probably diminish a bit. Culturally, our region has more in common with eastern Colorado, New Mexico, and southwestern Kansas, and we're in transition. Did race play a role in the results in the southeastern regions that reddened? I wouldn't be surprised, given what I know about a few of these areas (in particular, northeastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma). I'm reasonably sure that McCain and Palin were banking on the Southern Strategy. If nothing else, some the rhetoric of that particular campaign and its surrogates fanned a few flames. The culture warriors are making their last stand in this region.

Finally, I would have been shocked if Alaska and Arizona hadn't reddened a bit, given that the GOP candidates for prez and veep came from those states. That said, notice how the Arizona-Mexico border area continues to become more blue or barely changes from the previous election, along with the area including parts of Navajo Nation and Flagstaff. I wish I knew more about Alaska to comment on the changes occurring in that state.

I'm sure that folks will be studying this election for a while. I'm sure that one thing that will come out of the electoral fallout is the question about whether the GOP is still a national party, or if it is increasingly a regional party whose base is to be found in the Ozarks and Appalachian Mountains. Finally, whatever misgivings I might have about the Dems (which I've shared here time and time again), I'm not alone in celebrating the prospects of the GOP withering away - heck, for years libertarians of various stripes have said plenty about just how awful the GOP has been relative to the Dems on all manner of civil liberties matters.

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