2008 Election Map by County

This is a quick follow on post to my 2004 Election Map by County from a week ago.

2008 Election by County

Needless to say, it definitely shifted bluer this election.  I thought I’d post it here so there would be an easy comparison.

Actually, for the best data, see the New York Time 2008 Election site.  Fantastic data, and a dynamic application that lets you look at election results going back to 1992.

9 thoughts on “2008 Election Map by County

  1. Most election maps, while accurate in terms of geography, are heavily distorted in terms of voter population. Democrats are more popular in urban, densely populated, areas. Republicans, conversely, are popular in less densely populated rural areas. Most electorate maps, therefor, distort voter counts and give the illusion that republicans are far more popular than is true.
    This is evident by the fact that there is far more red than blue in the current map, yet Obama received more than 50% of the vote A more accurate map, in terms of voter counts, is the following: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/statepopredblue512.png

    Note. I am not a democrat shill, just a statistician interested in accuracy.

  2. I don’t think showing a county-by-county map is inaccurate at all. It’s not meant to represent population. As long as we have a voting system (electoral college) that is geography-based, this is going to continue to be an interesting way to view the results.

    The map you posted, of course, is incredibly inaccurate, since it portrays winner-take-all coloring of states. Of course, if you color California, New York, and Florida solid blue it’s going to look like that. So much for accuracy.

    A more accurate statement would be that the electoral college, by awarding Obama 364 votes to McCain 164 made Republicans look far less popular than they really are – after all, Obama won only a few percentage points more of the popular vote than McCain.


  3. I understand what you mean by winner take all coloring being an issue. I think both maps suffer from this to varying extent. The county map you posted has a gradient, but it does not truly lose the winner take all effect. For example, a 51% democratic county would be light blue. There is no red in light blue. The problem might be mitigated slightly, but it remains an issue.

    My contention is that it is more accurate to take into account population than geography. Arguments aside, the map I posted more closely resembles the electoral college results observed. You were correct that the map I posted was imperfect. An even better representation would be the map I posted with a gradient of color between red and blue. i.e. purple would represent a 50/50 split. I have not seen a map like this, but I imagine it would be mostly purple with some off purple in the partisan enclaves.

    My main contention, which I did not express well, is that the county by county map more closely corresponds to a “one acre on vote” paradigm than a “one man (or woman) one vote” paradigm. I think the 2004 election is the perfect example of this. Looking at the “Bush Country” map from 2004 it appears that Bush received far more than 51% of the vote. Yet 51% is what he received.

    I completely agree with your conclusion, however. The democratic controlled government is likely to suffer from the same hubris that afflicted the republican controlled government. I would add that oscillating between “borrow and (deficit) spend” and “tax and (deficit) spend” is not moving us any closer to long-term financial stability.

    I enjoy your blog immensely by-the-way, this is the first time I posted because I typically concur.

  4. Hi Christopher,

    Fair points all around. My point was merely that the “population” focus you are advocating for is more severely misrepresented by the “all-or-nothing” State map. If California has 40M people, and Obama wins 60% to 40%, the all or nothing coloring wipes out the visualization of 16M people. Reducing to counties doesn’t fix this, but it limits the problem by representing more fine grained elements (albeit, still all or nothing).

    The version I’m looking for is a voting map that is weighted by IQ. 🙂

    No worries, though. Appreciate the kind words about the blog.

  5. Adam,

    At first glance your idea of a voting map weighted according to IQ might seem arguably better than by voting tallies, but I prefer a map based upon an asset we’ve yet to devise a method for quantifying. I much prefer ‘common sense’ or better yet, ‘horse sense’ as I’ve known far too many with IQ’s higher than my own (146) who didn’t have the “common sense the good Lord gave a mule” as they say. ;~)

    • Hi Mary,

      While I get your point, I obviously would prefer a map based on something we can create than something we can’t. But as soon as you have that measure, let me know, and we’ll redraw. 🙂 Truth be told, I’d settle at this point for a straight popular vote. Almost anything would be more fair than the current electoral college.


  6. A few years back there was a map that parceled it out this way: each county was assigned a color based on the percentage of red and blue. As you would expect, the country came out looking like a nuanced purple bruise. I haven’t seen it done again, perhaps because it really didn’t say much except what we already knew – we were close to evenly split all across the nation.

    I’m for the popular vote too, but if polling is to be believed, big cities would have a far greater influence and they tend to skew liberal. So I wonder if it would be any fairer then the system we have now, which allows small towns and states a greater say.

Comments are closed.