Map" Gets a Second Look
August 27, 2001
We've all seen one. Sometimes by counties, sometimes by state
breakdown. Of course I refer to the famous Red vs. Blue map.
Many on the right use it as a fallacy-filled example of how
much support Bush had in 2000. Evidently, by looking at geographical
size, the amount of red somehow is supposed to legitimize
Bush's election. Perhaps we have become too much a world of
graphs - at a glance we are used to seeing depicted volume
on a piece of paper or computer screen as a meaningful representation
of something. Of course, it doesn't take a rocket scientist
to see the difference in a homogeneous pie chart and a heterogeneous
map - but it makes for great spin.
Of course, besides the population/area problem, the map implies
an all-or-nothing logic. If a state is red, it implies it
is 100% so. It implies the same about blue states. As anyone
who ever followed politics knows, there is nothing that cut
and dried. So let's eliminate some of the fallacies and take
a closer look at the popular vote totals of the red and the
blue states. Through multiplication of the percentage of votes
per state, both blue and red, we can develop a more informational
map - one with shades of purple. (I have added the Democratic
and Green votes together and the Republican, Reform, and "Other"
before dividing by total votes cast):
Where did all of the red go? It appears by this closer look
that Democrats have a fairly decent nation-wide representation.
Looking at this map, it is not hard to realize that the South
isn't quite as locked-up as we have been led to believe. As
seen above, in some cases it is very hard to discern what
state went for whom in the last election. Is there much of
a difference between MO and IA? There is on the top map, to
Based on election 2000, and based on the decline popularity
of G.W. Bush, it is reasonable to assume he will lose an overall
percentage of his votes in 2004. For fun, lets utilize the
same illogic as the right. The map of the U.S electorate can
be redrawn in Republican fashion with only pure red and pure
blue, while excluding all parties besides the Republicans
and Democrats. Noting what a few votes can do in some of the
purple swing states, we can point out a few telling signs
of just how tenuous the Republican "grip" on the Unites States
really is. In each of these "redraws" we will determine how
many votes would be required to turn some of the darker-purple
red states into darker-purple blue states.
This study looks at what would happen if a percentage of
Bush voters voted instead for the Democratic candidate in
the next election with all other points being equal. This
of course could also represent two Bush voters not voting,
or voting third party, two new Democratic voters, or any combination
thereof. For ease, we will take it in 0.5% increments of the
per-state vote totals.
If less that 0.5% of (269) Florida voters changed their votes
from Bush to the Democratic opponent in 2004 (again, assuming
all things being equal) Florida would turn Blue on the map.
To clarify, as stated above, this could also be achieved by
536 Bush voters not voting, voting third party, 536 third
party voters, 536 non-voters (or uncounted voters) in 2000
or any combination thereof to achieve a Democratic win.
With less than 1% of the Bush voters in New Hampshire changed
their vote to Democratic, that state too would turn blue.
This represents a mere 3,606 Bush voters, voting Democratic
or 7,212 fewer Republican ballots or 7,212 additional Democratic
At just under the 2% mark, four states convert to Democratic
control. These are Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and Tennessee.
This represents 39,394, 10,799, 83,368, and 40,115 converted
Bush voters respectively.
Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas requires just fewer
than 3% of the Bush supporters to cast their vote for the
Democratic candidate instead. Just 25,087 converted voters,
or a combined 50,173 new Democratic or non-voting Bush voters
make the difference.
Arizona and West Virginia join the Democratic column with
a mere switch of 3.5% of Republican voters. The represents
48,156 Bush voters in Arizona and 20489 West Virginia and
Republicans required to wake up.
4% of Louisiana's voters switching from Republican to Democrat
"change the map" once again. This represents 67,764 people
who voted for Bush realizing their mistake in this Deep South
An additional half percent (4.5% total) in Colorado and Virginia
"flip" these states. That is 72761 changed voters in Colorado,
and 110,101 switches in Virginia.
At the 6% mark, or 151,746 Bush voters getting a clue in
2004, Georgia would turn towards the future. Once again, this
doesn't represent a lot of voters in a fairly large state.
With 6.5% of North Carolina thinking more like John Edwards
and less like Jesse Helms, that state is brought into the
fold. Once again, just a handful of 186,736 Bush supporters
straying from their election 2000 vote makes the difference.
7.5% of Alabama's election participants, or 124,282 Bush
voters choosing a Democrat in 2004, converts this traditional
Republican state. It's possible that at least that many will
be angered by Bush's tax cut realities alone, not to mention
his other current and future debacles.
The states of Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina need an
8% change in votes. That means 171,929 reformed Indiana Republicans,
116,799 enlightened Kentucky citizens, and 110,428 annoyed
South Carolinians, adding another "chunk" of blue real estate
to the map.
Finally, to round out all states east of the river named
after it, the state of Mississippi falls to the Democrats
with a mere 84,116 Bush voters changing their minds in 2004.
That represents a total of 7.5% of the 2000 Bush voters.
Adding all of the numbers together, this means that the combined
number needed to substantially change the red and blue map
equates to 1,467,932 former Bush supporters voting more sensibly,
2,935,863 election 2000 Bush supporters not voting, 2,935,863
new democratic voters, or any combination thereof. That represents
just 1.38% of Bush voters nation-wide changing their votes,
or 2.79% additional Democrats or fewer Republican votes allocated
in proper proportions among the above states.
Suddenly, the infamous Red vs. Blue map looks like this:
For those keeping score, the 2004 electoral votes of this
map would break down accordingly:
If you live in one of these new-blue, true-blue states, the
time is now to make a difference. This means convincing friends,
educating people, enrolling voters, and making sure Democrats
get to the polls. We have much work ahead of us, but the task
is not insurmountable. We can, we must, and we will take our