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After the 2008 and now the 2012 election, it has been fashionable among liberal/progressive/lefties to post two maps that purport to show the similarities between the 2008 and now 2012 electoral map and the slave vs. free state map.  Can we please stop with this comparison, as it is bogus?  Proceed after the jump to see why...

The map is a kind of armchair history that is bad for all of us, as it reinforces false dichotomies between North and South, and is laced with an age-old condescension toward southerners by non-southerners.  The reality of America and the electoral landscape is MUCH more complicated.  So, let's all agree to stop with the simplistic stuff, leave that the Right and delve into the complexity.  

To that end, here is what the map really looks like, courtesy of Cousin Cole:

I made this because 1) I wanted to see what it looked like and 2) I think it's kinda important. Talking about red states versus blue states in a monolithic way is reductive and annoying.

UPDATE: Wisconsin is the wrong color on this map. I have corrected it here:

Update: I have just posted a black/white version for people who are

Several people have asked how this was done. The numbers were taken from MSNBC. I matched the percentage of blue in an RGB color picker to the percentage of the vote Barack Obama got and did the same for Romney and red. Green stayed at zero.

So if a state had voted 100% for one or the other, you would see the bluest blue or reddest red your computer screen can produce. The reason all the colors are more or less in the middle is because no state went more than ~70% for one side or the other. Although if you zoom in you can see that DC is very bright with 91% for Obama.

This should have been on the original image for reference:

A few people mentioned that they'd like to see this done by county. Personally I don't think the county map would be that useful unless it reflected the population disparity between counties (which is harder, but maybe possible). I'm thinking about it.

Update: Here are some more maps, including a county map, made by Mark Newson, who seems to be much more of a pro at this than I am.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yeah, I don't do failbook. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    US Blues, Manny

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:15:12 AM PST

  •  Put the map in your diary (6+ / 0-)

    Right now this diary is meaningless. Thanks.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:28:48 AM PST

    •  I don't know how. Sorry... (0+ / 0-)

      Explain how and I will.

      •  You upload the image to one of the sites (0+ / 0-)

        that dKos is programmed to use, put the URL in a link, and check the Image box. If you were to use the URLs above, you would get this explanation of the process in an error message when you clicked Preview.

        There was an error previewing your comment: The error was: is not from an approved image host. The approved domains are:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Hostname: Time: 2012-11-10T15:53:41
        So I uploaded your map to Flickr. Here you go.

        America—We built that!

        by Mokurai on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 08:03:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, until the first update it was a zero. (0+ / 0-)

      The map's not embedded in the diary, but I went to the link, and it's a pretty interesting map.  It provides a good illustration of the variations in the states. However, without immigration from south of the border, I suspect that the southern band of states would be much more red.

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:23:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some more maps to ponder (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Dave in Northridge, bluedust, doc2

    Showing minority concentrations by county

    and red/blue by county

    Red state counties without a significant minority population don't vote Democratic.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:41:15 AM PST

  •  I agree with your premise completely, but (0+ / 0-)

    your diary needs some editing, I think.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:44:15 AM PST

  •  asdf (4+ / 0-)

    For your comparisons to be reflective, would you not also have to produce maps on a county-by-county level showing SLAVE OWNERSHIP RATES for 1860?

    I mean, just to be sure we are comparing applpes to apples.

    After all, slavery was not a monolithic institution on a state level either. :D

    Sadly, everything Communism said about itself was a lie. Even more sadly,, everything Communism said about Capitalism was the truth.

    by GayIthacan on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:46:51 AM PST

  •  In Mississippi, Obama got 10% of the White vote (6+ / 0-)

    the other states where he got less than 20% of the White vote are LA, AL, GA, OK, UT, SC

    And, here are states where he got more than 50% of the White vote: CT, NY, HI, ME, MA, RI, VT

  •  And without the former pro-slavery states... (6+ / 0-)

    Rmoney would have around 40 electoral votes. Meaning that the vast majority of his support did indeed come from the come from the former pro-slavery states.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:48:29 AM PST

  •  While we're pondering this (6+ / 0-)

    You might also be interested to know that when the votes for secession were taken in the states that would form the Confederacy, more than 40% of voters in each state except South Carolina (where the delegates to the convention were unanimously for secession) opposed secession, and one new state was formed from the counties that wanted to remain in the Union in Virginia.


    As for county maps, the Los Angeles Times usually has one that displays how the majority of people in a county votes, but it doesn't get to percentages.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:56:02 AM PST

  •  Perhaps not so bogus then. (3+ / 0-)

    Mark Newson's maps are really interesting. All of these maps really give a really good presentation for how statistics and data can be manipulated.  A really visual feel, if you don't mind a little synesthesia.  

    This is fascinating. Thank for the maps everyone.

  •  Beautiful map; two requests (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's very illuminating; as I recall there were county-grain maps of this sort around after the 2008 election, some with an attempt to show population density as well. It is very important to break down the silly dichotomizing that sees a 49-51 split as red and a 51-49 split as blue.

    I wish you'd do two more things. One is just to add "color key" squares of the two pure colors, for comparison. It's important to see how far the reddest "red states" are from being pure red, especially. The other is to do a version that does the same thing you have here, but with the white vote only. That is the place where it seems plausible to say that there is a more "bimodal" pattern. There is no particular reason to think that either the descendents of slaves or new immigrants from Africa, Asia or Central America should or do vote much more 'red' in the former slave states, but the  figures I've seen do suggest a relatively clear split in the white vote along the lines of the slavery map. If true, worth noting. But even so, the split is not between red and blue, but shades of medium purple. Also worth noting. (Of course some of the white voters everywhere are also immigrants from other countries or other states...)

    I don't think it is foolish at all to suppose that the history of slavery, and of the Confederacy and what happened to it, left a legacy that still affects us all today. It was a dichotomizing history.

  •  Any Southern racist will tell you that the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DanceHallKing, skrekk, realwischeese

    Civil War was fought for States' Rights, not for slavery. Historians, even in the South, have increasingly pointed out that this self-serving theory is bo-o-o-o-ogus. The secession ordinances of the Confederate states are quite explicit about slavery, as was the Confederate Constitution. For example,

    And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States,…
    The overlap between the maps of the Confederacy and the Republican Southern Strategy is not complete. But when you add the Religious Right, the Bible and Book of Mormon Belt to the old Confederacy, the match is complete.

    Your point that Red states contain Blue voters, while true, does not change the basic fact about the shrinking Republican coalition of racism, bigotry, misogyny, and kleptocracy.

    What to do, then? Well, there is talk of Republicans responding rationally to their defeats in this cycle by adjusting their policies and their rhetoric. Both suggestions are delusional. The rhetoric cannot be fixed while the policies are in place, and the policies cannot be fixed while the crazies are in charge of the asylum.

    What will happen instead is that the ever-more-strident Republican Party will continue to purge its moderates and shrink toward irrelevance, while the Democratic Party grows, until one or both fracture and form new coalitions. There is talk of divorce among the racist, religious, Tea Party, establishment, and Libertarian wings of the Republican Party. If so, Democrats could enjoy a period of one-party rule at the national level. However, at that point the Progressives and Centrists could fracture, as happened in The Era of Good Feeling under President Monroe with the Populist Democrats and pro-corporate Whigs.

    America—We built that!

    by Mokurai on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 08:43:37 AM PST

    •  I live in Eau Claire WI and met an Alabamian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      at a party. He SEEMED to be a fairly liberal guy. We got around to talking about college, and asked what I studied. I told him reconstruction era America. His ears perked up, and he launched into this shit about the war being about controlling the south's economics, and had nothing to do with slavery. I was controlled, and I deconstructed every point he made, until at the end he admitted he'd have to do   'more research'. I saw him again a month later,  and he wanted me to stop by again as he could refute my historical facts. I did, and we shared a beer over our discussions. I then started piecing together the real reason why Southerners wanted to revise history-to deny slavery and its' horrors. Then he dropped the bomb-he didn't think slavery was widespread in the South nor was it all involuntary. Our discussion level started to rise, and I had to start questioning him on race.  I  eventually had to leave, I didn't blow up, but that man is an unrepentant full blown hooded racist. And a dangerous one at that.

      "Too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others" Robert F. Kennedy

      by realwischeese on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:02:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you want to see the ugly side of WI racism... (0+ / 0-)

        ... read my book:  The Selma of the North:  Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee.  Milwaukee is perhaps the most segregated city in the country, the site of an incredible violent anti-civil rights movement.  So, again, let's keep the regional race-bashing to a minimum.  No one is clean on this race stuff.

  •  We should be careful to not make racism... (0+ / 0-)

    ... a regional ailment.  It is a national phenomenon.  Today, the most segregated cities are almost all northern cities.  Racial violence throughout our history has been as pernicious in the North as in the South.  Just saying...

    •  I call BS (0+ / 0-)

      This is at the level of Holocaust denial, just like the guy described above by realwischeese.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 01:26:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The BIG -- but not the only --difference (0+ / 0-)

      In the South the cliche was "Come as close as you want, but don't go too high"

      In the North: "Go as high as you can, but don't come to close."

      In the South the racial divide had the full support of  the Law.,  It was statewide,  and enacted law by  legislatures elected by all-White electorates and enthusiastically  enforced by State, County and Town police and courts.

      In the North, segregation was established by economics and "affinity" ...  enforced primarily by "racial steering" by banks and real estate brokers -- and the private acts of individual bigots.  

      In the North, the Klan was controlled by the Police, in the South it was often the other way around.

      By definition one must agree that racial violence has been as "pernicious" in the North as in the South ... but it takes a partisan understanding to pretend that the violence was equally prevalent ... or treated the same way in both regions  by local laws, courts, and police.

      I come from a pretty segregated time and place ...  NYC and Nassau County in the 1950's/60's ... but NOTHING in my experience prepared me for the reality of Segregation in daily life as practiced  in Roanoke VA and Charlotte NC.

      I understand that much has changed since the Washington Government sent troops to integrate the schools and then passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ... preparing the ground for Nixon's "Southern Strategy"

      But still ...

      Without repentance there is no reform:  ask a German.

      •  See my book... (0+ / 0-)

        ... The Selma of the North:  Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee.  It will be an eye-opener for many.

        •  Ah! There's a BOOK! That changes everthing (0+ / 0-)

          A history professor I know once observed that "History is a form of literature for authors who lack the imagination to fabricate facts or create characters."  (Of course, the poor sod IS a Deconstructionist ... but still)

          Leaving aside the whole question of whether there even is such a thing as a "fact" on which an historical "truth" can be based ... or if any collection of such "truths" can be said to construct a "reality" or if such a "reality" is of any value in understanding the past or predicting the future ....

          In the context of writing a book that will pay royalty  ... the question of  whether Milwaukee is representative of minority experience in the North as Selma may have epitomized race relations in the South,  is hardly relevant.

          You have every right to promote a novel premise which has emotional appeal  for a significant  market --  in this case the "History not Hate" community ?

          Bravo!  Originality and controversy sell  books. Equating Northern and Southern Racism may not be the most original idea in the last two and a half centuries -- but it does remain controversial.

    •  Racism as a core belief is a regional ailment (0+ / 0-)

      Sure, everybody is a little bit racist. But in the south, it is a foundation of character to many whites. There are racial preferences that many people consciously but more often unconscionably employ in their decision making, but in the south, it is a reason to hate. Not just to hate members of that race, but also (and sometimes, even more so) to hate people who try to rise above it.

      I've lived in both regions, and the border, and out west away from it all. There is nothing like the southern racism anywhere else. It felt oppressive as a white guy, I can't imagine as a black person. Even at a major NC university, it was still a plantation culture as to who did what kind of work.

      You can't honestly make an argument that the northern cities are more segregated because they are more racist. The southern states simply have way more black people - because they initially imported way more black people. As slaves, you know? Here, have another detailed map to add to the conversation.

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