Policy & Politics

Posts about campaigns, elections and national policy.

Recent posts

Charting Partisan Polarization in Congress

The Fix today has a post about the newly released digital version of Vital Statistics on Congress, a partnership between between a few think tanks that contains reams of enlightening data about the institution.

Among the more interesting examples is a table showing the partisan polarization over the years. Chris Cillizza’s take:

There is, really, only one thing you need to understand if you want to see why Congress doesn’t do much of anything these days. And that one thing is this: We are living in a time of historic polarization between the two parties.

It’s clear from the chart in the report that the parties are as far apart as they’ve been in the modern era:

Mapping 2012 Presidential Results in Majority Minority Counties

Yesterday I mapped the more than 350 “majority minority” counties in the United States, breaking them down by race and ethnicity groups and geography. As promised, today I’ve looked at how these counties (in the contiguous United States) voted in the 2012 election.

Obama won about 70 percent of these counties. Here’s the map:

The Daily Viz

The Daily Viz

That map, of course, can be misleading — as often happens in elections. That because the area of the counties can distort their actual voting power. In this case, Obama won more “majority minority” counties with urban populations and many more voters, such as Los Angeles (Calif.), Cook (Ill.) and Kings (N.Y.) counties, among others. Romney carried rural Republican counties, largely in Texas and the west.

Obama received nearly 18 million votes in the “majority minority” counties he carried. Romney got 2 million votes in his “majority minority” counties. In the end, Obama received a net 10 million votes from “minority majority” counties — nearly double his national margin over Romney in the country as a whole.

The map below uses proportional circles on top of the choropleth map above to help visualize the total votes in each county. You can see how Obama won in many of the most-populous counties, increasing his national margin (though not necessarily helping with the Electoral College — except in critical purple states he carried, such as Florida and Virginia).

The Daily Viz

The Daily Viz

You can download the data here.

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Mapping Obama’s Election Performance By County In 2012 Vs. 2008

The Washington Post over the weekend published an interesting story about President Obama’s southern support in the election:

The nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region than any other Democratic nominee in three decades, underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support.

This map compares Obama’s performance in 2008 to this year’s election in the lower 48 states. Darker blue shades represent higher percentage point increases, and darker red shades represent decreases in percentage points. It’s clear he performed better this time in parts of the Deep South:

The Daily Viz

But why? One likely explanation for Obama’s stronger showing in the parts of the South could be that those counties have a high proportion of black voters, and Obama turned them out. According to the Post, “black voters came out in droves on Election Day and voted overwhelmingly for Obama — near or above 95 percent in most parts of the South.” Here’s a map of the black population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. See a correlation?

U.S. Census Bureau

Notice too that Obama did worse in Coal Country than he did four years ago, perhaps because the region has higher unemployment rates than the national average, or because the Romney campaign wooed voters in this region, especially in Virginia. Here’s a map of coal production, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This is less clear, in part because the map shows all coal-producing counties, not just those in which it’s a key part of the economy now (the red and pink areas in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia):

USGS

And, finally, it’s no surprise that Romney did better than McCain in 2008 in Utah. Romney, of course, is a Mormon and he led the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. But if you want to compare it with the election results, here’s a map of the Mormon population, again from the U.S. Census Bureau:

U.S. Census Bureau

I’m generally not a huge fan of county-by-county election maps because counties as a unit of geography are largely meaningless in national elections. But in this case maybe it’s useful. Meanwhile, check out the Post’s nice map gallery of the 2012 electorate.

Obama Approval Rating Charts Updated

A few months ago I posted a dashboard of 21 interactive charts comparing President Obama’s approval rating among different groups (men vs. women, Democrats vs. Republicans, rich vs. poor, etc.). I’ve updated the charts with the most recent Gallup data:

See the charts, and download the data.