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Electoral Rorschach

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Electoral Rorschach - Political Reality is in the Eye of the Beholder




In a world where everything is spin, not even two-dimensional geography is above suspicion.


Remember the "West Wing" episode in which each staff member must spend a day meeting with oddball constituent groups? The group they find most amusingly absurd is Cartographers for Social Equality —that is, until the earnest mapmakers persuade them that the standard world map, created by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569, conveys a dangerously warped, Eurocentric worldview.


In this month's presidential election, electoral maps were everything. They quickly spun out of control. Every conceivable variation on the red/blue state scheme splattered across the blogosphere. Someone cooked up a map showing that former slave states and territories coincide with today's red states. Someone concocted a map that divided the Democrats' "United States of Canada" and Republicans' "Jesusland."


This week a Times obituary noted the passing of Arthur H. Robinson, who in 1963 created what is widely regarded as the "more realistic" elliptical map that those "West Wing" cartographers were pushing — "the world as it really is," in cartographer-speak. But political reality is in the eye of the beholder, as shown by these images at University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Complex Systems website:




From the Sunday, November 21, 2004 Los Angeles Times Opinion Section. This web site is particular interesting because it gives various catographic represenations, in addition to the county by county vote results I provided a link to earlier. The map above represents electoral results based on population, rather than land mass (as in the traditional network/newspaper map). The site also gives maps on a variety of other methods and is otherwise very interesting and informative.



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