Policy & Politics

Posts about campaigns, elections and national policy.

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Charting the Popularity of ‘Hillary’

Despite her big win in New York, trouble looms for Hillary Clinton in the general election, according to a new poll that shows her favorable/unfavorable ratings at dangerously low levels among key demographic groups.

Clinton has seen her fair share of bad polls over the years, yet she’s found ways to rebound. The same can’t really be said about her first name, however.

Perhaps one measure of her favorability — if so, a cruel one — is the frequency with which American parents have decided to call their daughters “Hillary”. The name peaked historically the year her husband, Bill Clinton, won the White House. It then plummeted dramatically, according to Social Security card application data released by the federal government.

This chart shows the proportion of parents who picked “Hillary” since 1947, the presidential candidate’s birth year:

hillary

“Hillary” was most popular in 1992, when about 2,500 girls received the name — roughly .13 percent of those listed in the data that year. Two years later, only about 400 girls received the name, or about .02 percent. (“Hillary”, by the way, made a small but brief comeback in 2008).

The figures in both years seem low, given the size of the country. But remember that Americans get creative with their kids’ names. There were about 1.84 million girls who received Social Security cards in 1992, and their parents picked at least 15,000 different name iterations, from Aaisha to Zykeia. Ashley was most popular with about 38,000 applications (or roughly 2 percent of the listed names).

Perhaps Hillary would be slightly more popular if parents conformed (or could spell). In 1992, for example, a few hundred poor souls got these iterations of Clinton’s name: Hilliary, Hillery, Hillari, Hillarie and Hillaree. Also: Hilary.

My name — Matthew — has taken a roller coaster ride, too. It peaked in 1983, with about 50,000 boys receiving it — roughly 2.8 percent of the 1.8 million boys who received Social Security cards with that birth year. What caused the name’s rise? Perhaps I’ll never know, though my mother picked it not from the New Testament but from a John Denver song.

Thanks, Mom. (At least you spelled it correctly).

matthew

Want to see your name? Tell me in the comments.

Charting Clinton’s Sizable Lead in Votes

This post has been updated. See correction at the bottom of the page.

To some Bernie Sanders supporters, the Democratic presidential race must seem close. Their candidate, after all, has essentially split victories with Hillary Clinton in the more than 30 election primaries and caucuses since the process began in February — including several in a row recently.

Clinton, their thinking goes, may have a lead in pledged delegates for the nomination, but her sizable and (for now) critical lead among party leaders known as “superdelegates” could crumble if the Vermont senator continues winning.

Anything’s possible. But Clinton has already secured many, many more votes than the Vermont senator and, party rules and delegate grappling aside, is absolutely dominating the race in terms of raw support. This trend is likely to continue with large, Clinton-friendly states coming up, and it could undercut Sanders supporters’ “will of the voters” hypothesis going forward.

Clinton has won roughly 9.4 million votes, compared to Sanders’ 7 million, according to returns from U.S. states. Along the way she’s posted huge victories. Her margin in Florida alone (530,000 votes) is about the same as Sanders’ margin in his victories combined.

Here are a few quick sketches (see correction below) that help illustrate this fact. First, let’s look at their states on a scatter plot to explore not just the number of victories for each candidate but the size of their respective states — and the relative victory margins:

scatter

Here’s a similar view in the form of a bubble chart (or, Alastair Dant would say, “BALLS!”):

bubbles

And, finally, two maps. Again they show the large margins — and geographic differences — evident Clinton’s victories:

maps

UPDATE: A Twitter user suggested I look at the data with time in mind. Not sure it proves his point, but here’s another sketch:

time

The charts were made with Tableau Public, a useful tool for sketching with data. You can see interactive versions of the charts here: Scatter | Bubbles | Maps | Time.

(Correction: Some caucus states — Washington, Nevada, Maine and Wyoming — reported candidates’ proportional number of delegates selected to state conventions, not actual votes. The charts below now reflect margin estimates extrapolated from the total Democratic caucus participation by delegate share, like this. The charts were updated to reflect these estimates. The central idea of the post, and the overall popular vote margin difference between the candidates, remains virtually unchanged, however.)

Mapping GOP Campaign Cash by Density

The GOP presidential candidates collectively have raised more than $300 million in this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data. Here’s a quick look at where the several of those candidates — Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump — collected the money.

Each dot on the maps (see update below) below represents at least $5,000 raised by zip code. The dots in each place are assigned randomly within the zip code boundaries, creating a density map (think Verizon vs. AT&T) for campaign donations* through Feb. 29.

Here’s a (crowded) map with all the candidates. The dots were layered alphabetically, a method that unfortunately obscures some candidates at this scale, depending on the geography. Still regional differences are evident:

zips_gop_contribs_all

JEB BUSH

The former Florida governor raised large amounts of money, of course, from his home state, but also — as the perceived frontrunner for a time — from major population centers:

zips_gop_contribs_bush_red

BEN CARSON

Carson raised a ton of money for someone who received relatively little love once voters started casting their ballots. His map shows he raised more from small locations throughout the country, not just the major population centers:

zips_gop_contribs_carson_red

CHRIS CHRISTIE

The New Jersey governor, understandably, raised a large proportion of his money from his home region:

zips_gop_contribs_christie_red

TED CRUZ

The Texas senator raised money from all over the country, but he clearly has a financial base in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston — the major population centers in his home state.

zips_gop_contribs_cruz_red

JOHN KASICH

Like Christie, the Ohio governor tapped his donor base at home:

zips_gop_contribs_kasich_red

MARCO RUBIO

The Florida senator’s map looks much like that of his frenemy, Bush:

zips_gop_contribs_rubio_red

DONALD TRUMP

The billionaire business man, who has relied largely on personal funds for his campaign, has raised very little money in checks larger than $200, as reflected in his map:

zips_gop_contribs_trump_red

* To keep the analysis consistent for all campaigns, the maps were created with a data set that excluded individual donations of less than $200. The data include only donations to the candidates’ campaign committees, not other political committees supporting them.

UPDATE (9:20 p.m. EST): Based on David’s suggestion in the comments, I’ve changed the dot color in the individual maps so it’s consistent. You can see the originals here: Bush | Carson | Christie | Cruz | Kasich | Rubio | Trump.

Sanders Strongest in Educated Areas

Last week we examined how the Democratic presidential campaigns have performed in the context of Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.

That analysis grouped Obama’s vote share into categories, highlighting how the country’s reddest and bluest counties have voted for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders so far in the Democratic primaries. Clinton, the clear frontrunner, performed best in areas where Obama was strongest against Mitt Romney. But Sanders did slightly better when majority black counties weren’t factored.

Here’s a look at the Democratic race (through the most-recent contests) in the context of voters’ educational attainment. Each candidate’s average vote share by county is grouped by the proportion of residents in those areas with at least a bachelor’s degree. Sanders doesn’t win among any group, but he generally performs best in places where voters have more education:

dems_edu

Comparing Clinton, Sanders Vote Share with Obama 2012

Among the fascinating aspects of American politics are the various factors — demographic, financial, historical, etc. — that shape the geography of campaigns.

This election cycle is no different, with presidential candidates in both parties winning a seemingly random mix of specific counties and overall states since the primary season began in Iowa on Feb. 1.

On the Democratic side, one question has nagged me this week: How have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders performed in the context of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign?

Inspired by a recent FiveThirtyEight story about the Republicans, I compared the Democratic candidates’ vote share in more than 2,050 counties thus far with how Obama did in those places four years ago.

Clinton has won about two thirds of the counties contested by the Democrats thus far that Obama carried in 2012. She has won about 5.8 million votes in those places, compared to roughly 4 million for Sanders.

But is Clinton’s support stronger in places where Obama was stronger? As a data exercise, I looked at Obama’s vote share by county and county equivalents and then grouped the locations based on his strength. (In some places contested by Clinton and Sanders, of course, Obama got clobbered by Romney. In others, he won by huge margins). I then calculated how Clinton and Sanders did respectively in each.

This first chart shows the results. It’s clear that Clinton does better in places that were the most Democratic in 2012. The more “blue” the county for Obama, the higher her vote share, on average:

clinton-sanders-obama-all

That’s interesting, but not unexpected, given that Clinton is the frontrunner and what we know about her dominance in places with high proportions of black voters.

See FiveThirtyEight’s take on Sanders’ five-state winning streak in caucuses this week:

Sanders’s strength in caucuses may also be, in part, coincidental. Every state that has held or will hold a Democratic caucus this year has a black population at or below 10 percent of the state’s total population, and black voters have been among Clinton’s strongest demographic groups. Without those black voters, Clinton just can’t match the enthusiasm of Sanders’s backers. (In Southern states, where Clinton romped, her voters were far more enthusiastic than Sanders’s supporters were.)

So I ran the numbers again, but this time removing the 93 counties where blacks are the majority, mostly in the Deep South. The picture is a bit different, showing how Sanders competes more strongly when the black vote is less of a factor:

clinton-sanders-obama-noblack

(View interactive versions of the charts — and the data tables — here).

Sanders, of course, doesn’t get the pick the voters’ demographics.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how Clinton and Sanders performed when counties are grouped by their residents’ educational attainment. Hint: Sanders does better in places where a higher proportion of people 25 or older have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Mapping Consistently Partisan Counties

When it comes to recent presidential elections, geography — at least in some stubborn places — is destiny.

Voters in more than 1,600 American counties — a little more than half of those* in the United States — have consistently selected the same political party in each presidential election since George H.W. Bush faced off against Michael Dukakis. Chances are many of them will do so again this election cycle, too.

This first map shows each of the counties. They represent a wide swath of American geography — large and small, densely and sparsely populated, rural and urban. The colors show the familiar red/blue categorization of Republicans and Democrats, with darker shades representing a higher respective vote share on average.

seven_counties

About 1,330 of the counties have voted each cycle for the Republican nominee. They are generally less populous, with some exceptions, and clustered across the country in large patches that are obviously familiar to the GOP:

seven_counties_rep

The Democrats have far fewer consistently partisan counties — around 315 — but theirs are somewhat more populous and urban, and they have higher concentrations of minority voters. Again, that’s comfortable turf for Democrats:

seven_counties_dem

Given the differences between the two parties’ counties, plotting them on a map isn’t necessarily the best way to view this data. That’s because the larger, less-populous red counties in the West tend to disproportionally shade the national picture. Conversely, the blue counties tend to be smaller and more densely populated and therefore don’t get fair shake visually.

Another way to look at the data is with a tree map. In the examples below, counties are proportionally drawn in squares and rectangles and clustered by state. Both are then sized based on their respective average vote totals over the seven elections. The colors and sizes at the county level reflect the political party its voters favor — and the average votes per cycle for that party. The result is a clearer picture of each party’s pool of support.

Here’s a version with both parties (see a larger, interactive version here). Notice that the blue area for Democrats is a bit more representative than on the geographic map:

treemap_both

Here’s the Democratic map, which includes many fewer (but more populous) counties and plenty of votes:

treemap_d

The Republicans have a few populous counties, too, but many of them are tiny, as represented on this map:

treemap_r

Again, check out the larger interactive version to filter the maps, see partisan vote averages by county, and even toggle between individual state maps.

Though counties are generally a useless level of geography for presidential elections, it’s still fun to look at which areas inside states are consistently shaping partisan destiny.

* Counties in Alaska and Hawaii not included because Alaska has wacky county problems across elections. Also because of laziness.

Clinton Dominates ‘Majority Minority’ Counties

Hillary Clinton’s efforts to win over minority voters have paid off significantly in the Democratic primaries. Many of these voters simply aren’t feeling the Bern, according to voting results and demographics data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since January, Clinton and her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have faced off in 26 states, pulling about 15 million votes from 1,900 counties and county equivalents. (Votes in two states, Kansas and Minnesota, were calculated at the congressional district level).

Roughly 250 of the counties contested in the Democratic race are majority minority, meaning non-Hispanic whites there represent less than half the population. The majority in those places is as follows: Blacks (91 counties), Hispanics (64 counties) and Native Americans/Alaska natives (1 county). Another 93 counties have no ethnic or racial majority, making them quite diverse compared to much of America.

Clinton won all but seven of these majority minority counties.

To understand this phenomenon, it’s useful to take a look at her vote share on a map (inspired by The New York Times’ lovely interactive version here). She’s dominated the Deep South and Texas, places with high proportions of black and Hispanic voters, respectively:

primary_results_dems_clinton

Sanders’ map also clearly shows Clinton’s strength, except for a few places (remember Kansas and Minnesota’s maps would look different had votes been counted at the county level) outside the South and in New England, his home turf:

primary_results_dems_sanders

Here’s a map showing all 249 majority minority counties in the Democratic race thus far on top of Clinton’s vote share. As I mentioned, Sanders only won seven of them (and only one with a population greater than 10,000):

primary_results_dems_clinton_mm

Clinton’s dominance is particularly evident among black voters specifically. Of all the counties in the race, not just those that are majority minority, about 380 have at least a 25-percent black population. Clinton, somehow, won them all, edging Sanders by 1.5 million votes:

primary_results_dems_clinton_black

Of course, none of this is a surprise. Black voters in overwhelmingly side with the Democrats, and Clinton is the Democratic front runner. But it’s interesting, I suppose, that Sanders hasn’t done better.

Thoughts?

Where ‘Anglos’ are the Minority

I’ve posted before about “majority minority” counties — places where non-Hispanic whites represent less than half the population. They were critical to President Obama’s election in 2008, and their numbers continue to grow.

The number of “majority minority” counties — now the most in modern U.S. history — have doubled since 1980, according to the Pew Research Center.

The most-recent population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that non-Hispanic whites (or “Anglos,” as my Texas friends call them) are the minority in 364 counties.

There are 151 that don’t have a single racial or ethnic group in the majority, making them the country’s most-diverse places. Hispanics are more than half the population in 94 counties, mostly in the Southwest, followed by blacks (93, mostly in the Deep South) and American Indians/Alaska natives (26, mostly in the Great Plains and Alaska).

Here’s a quick map:

'Majority Minority' Counties

‘Majority Minority’ Counties

The number of these counties, of course, will continue to grow and shape our culture and politics. Tomorrow we’ll look at these locations in the context of the current presidential primaries.

“Bernie Baby” and the Decline of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

“Bernie Baby,” a Los Angeles infant who gained attention on social media after his mother dressed him like Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has died, the Associated Press reports.

The apparent cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome, according to a family member. Oliver Jack Carter Lomas-Davis was just shy of four months old.

Such stories are terrifying, especially for parents who, like me, are caring for an infant. But they are relatively rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 3,500 infants die in the U.S. each year from sudden, unexpected causes — about 40 percent of which are later determined to be sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

This graph, created by the agency, shows the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths, or SUIDs, from 1990 to 2014. Such cases involve three main categories, the most high profile being SIDS. It dropped from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 38.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014.

Trends in Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Rates by Cause, 1990-20

The overall drop could be attributed to increased public awareness, including two government safety campaigns initiated in the early 1990s, according to the agency.

Charting Billions of (Endangered?) $100 Bills

hundred-face

The ubiquitous $100 currency note — the Bill, the C-Note, the Benjamin — might be ready to cash out, at least if a group of influential economists have their way.

In a recent paper, scholars at Harvard University argue that the elimination of the $100 bill, along with other high-value currency notes around the world, could reduce corruption and restrict criminal enterprises.

Their findings even prompted a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, to suggest that governments should stop printing $50 and $100 notes, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“I’d guess the idea of removing existing notes is a step too far. But a moratorium on printing new high-denomination notes would make the world a better place,” Mr. Summers wrote in an item for The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

As the Journal reports, though, the $100 bill isn’t quite spent. About 10 billion of them — roughly $1 trillion in currency — are still circulating through the world economy (though far too few are in my wallet these days).

They’ve been printed at a steady rate during the last 30 years, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And another 1.5 billion have been ordered for the 2016 fiscal year, the agency says.

This chart plots the printing rates of the various U.S. dollar notes since 1980. Note the recent spike in $100 printing during the 2013 fiscal year. That fall the government began issuing a new round of $100 bills with enhanced security features. The printing fell off again last year to reflect the burst in new paper.

Government Currency Printing: 1980-2014

See a full-screen version.

Data: U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.