The recent election, in a good example of counter-causal temporal wind, now seems far, far behind us. In fact, it might be called a hurricane-force temporal gust, blowing the effects of the election far back into last year. This “Hillary 2008” sign was found wedged deep in a palm tree from June 2007.
Now, in the still of the post-election calm, we’re starting to see some fascinating election maps analyzing what just happened. There is, of course, the familiar blue state/red state map in which, as of this writing, Missouri is still listed as undecided (according to the Wikipedia). You Show Me but I won’t show you?
Far more interesting are Mark Newman’s nifty election map equal area cartograms. These go a long way to explaining how those vast tracts of red territory don’t add up to a Republican majority.
Also enlightening is the county-by-county map, not of the voting in 2008, but of the voting differential between 2004 and 2008. I first learned of this from Ben Fry’s blog, but the map is on the NY Times site. What you see is an almost entirely blue map except for a region that is comprised of nearly the entire states of Tennessee and Arkansas, with a good chunk of Oklahoma. That’s the only part of the country that voted substantially more Republican than in the last election. What’s going on here?
Now look at this. On Pin the Tail I first came across this map. It was written up in much better detail by Strange Maps. It’s an overlay of 1860 cotton production and 2008 voting patterns. The alignment is uncanny.
This got me curious about Tennessee and Arkansas again. I went to the U.S. Census Fact Finder and looked up a map of the percent of people who give their race only as white. What you find is that Tennessee and Arkansas, in addition to being relatively poor, represent the southernmost boundary of the 90% contour line of people who describe themselves as strictly white. Which is to say, the whitest part of the Confederacy.
It seems appropriate to quote Faulkner: “The past is never dead, it is not even past.”