When the 2008 election threatened to embarrass the right out of its usual endless gloating, endangering their well-rehearsed lines about how “America” really agrees with them so get over it, they had to strike back somehow. Accordingly, right-wing newsmax.com came up with a county map purporting to show that “America Is Still a ‘Red’ Nation.”
Well, I’ve been playing around on the New York Time’s wonderful “Electoral Explorer” page, and I’ve discovered something very interesting. The red America you see above isn’t the real America.
First of all, let’s take a look at a better, more nuanced county map that uses shades of blue or red to show how strongly Democratic or Republican particular counties are, courtesy of the Electoral Explorer.
Except, this isn’t the whole country. It isn’t even the real country. As you may notice, certain areas are blank. Those are the counties with at least 200 people per square mile. The map above only gives the more thinly populated counties with under 200 people per square mile, and, as you can see, while Obama carried some of them (in blue), McCain won these counties overall, 56-43%.
Here are the other, more densely populated counties, where Obama won by a nearly identical margin of 57-42%:
You might well wonder, with these mirror-image results, how Obama wound up with a decisive victory. Map 3, above, looks like just a few counties strewn all over the place, while Map 2 looks like the vast majority of the nation.