Sunday, November 07, 2004


I was forwarded this image and I suspect it will be making the online rounds quite shortly (if it hasn't already). It's potentially shaping up to be 2004's version of the "Bush vs. Gore/IQ Chart". Meaning: it seems to make "instant sense" and seemingly creates a historical lineage between past and present.

The problem is that while this map is visually striking for its similar patterns, its lack of historical grounding makes it little more than just an intriguing coincidence. After all, just go here and you'll see that "slave states" have voted Democratic in every election from the late 1800s until 1964. As for "free states," they voted solidly Republican between 1972 to 1988, with the exception of Carter in '76.

Just goes to show: you can't believe everything you see...even if you want to.

TO CLARIFY: (Read the comments for some good analysis by the readership) It's not that I don't buy a correlation between historical trends and the recent election but it's not just enough to post two similar maps and go voila! Southerners may not have the same track record of general liberal politics as the Northeast but depending on the candidate, there have been times where the South has backed a liberal candidate (Carter or Clinton) and when New England has voted GOP (Reagan, Nixon).

My main point, which I didn't make clear enough, is that it seems grossly reductionist to attribute Bush's victory to the legacy of the South's slavery roots. Does it play some role? Sure but that's not enough to explain how an inferior candidate (that's Bush in case you're wondering) has managed to eke out two elections in a row. If the Dems - or anyone else - are going to take out the GOP over the course of the next few election cycles, they need to strategize as cleverly and insightfully as their opponents have.