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More Electoral Fun

October 20, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Four addenda to my post on Electoral Fun:

1. I should have warned that in Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, the coloring of states in the maps is counter to current standard usage: the atlas has states colored red if they vote Democratic and blue if they vote Republican. This will be clear enough after studying any one of them for a few moments, but I want to spare any initial confusion.

2. It’s worth adding to my list of years with close elections the year 1880. Go to the results page in the atlas, click on 1880 in the left margin, and you’ll see the results for that year. James Garfield won the popular vote over Winfield Hancock by 4,453,337 to 4,444,267. The electoral vote wasn’t as close: 214 to 155.

But there’s another interesting feature. If you look at the map, you’ll see that the blue (Republican) states are all to the north, the red (Democratic) states all to the south.

3. With this last observation in mind, you can go to another interesting page at the atlas. Once you have clicked on the results for any given year, look at the links below the national map and find the link “Compare National Maps by Year.” Click on it. You’ll find all the maps for the elections from 1824 to 2004 on one page, allowing you to see by color how the states, or regions, voted from election to election. The persistence of the South as a Democratic voting block (occasional landslide aside) until Reagan’s election in 1980 leaps out visually.

4. Finally, be sure to go to the Electoral College Calculator for 2008. It has as its initial setting the results of the 2004 elections. The states are all listed, with their electoral vote totals. You can change the winner of certain states, then hit the “Update Map and EV Totals” button and see the result. For example, leave everything else the same but move Colorado and Virginia from the Republican column to the Democratic one. You find that Obama wins narrowly.

Categories: History, Politics
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