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Year of population peak
Year of population peak
The United States population just keeps growing and growing ... when you account for births outstripping deaths and add immigration on top of that, there's a net gain of one person in the U.S. every 17 seconds! Still, that growth tends to be heavily concentrated in the already-densest parts of the country. There are broad swaths of the country that are nearly empty, and just continues to get emptier. There are more than 3,000 counties (and independent cities) in the U.S., but in slightly more than half of all those counties, their population peaked some year in the past ... sometimes a decade or two ago, sometimes centuries ago.

To better illustrate that, I've put together a map that shows just when each county's population peaked, according to the decennial Census. The darker the color, the further back in time the population peaked. The yellow counties are as populous as ever; orange counties peaked in the later part of the 20th century; red counties peaked in the early part of the 20th century; and by the time you get into the purple counties, they peaked back in the 19th century. As you can see, it's not a random spray; instead, there are waves that steadily march across the country.

Below the fold, there's an interactive version of the map that you can pan and zoom and mouse over particular counties to see the specific year. There's also additional discussion of what the patterns that you're seeing might mean.

The first pattern that you're probably noticing is that the counties that peaked at some point in the past tend to be the most rural counties, and, for the most part, counties where the fewest people live. That's borne out by the actual population data: people used to be distributed more evenly throughout the country, when it was a more agrarian nation. At this point, more than three-quarters of the U.S. population lives in an urban area, but as recently as 1910, a true majority of the population was rural. There's also a very robust statistical relationship (a correlation coefficient of 0.46) between what year the county's population peaked, and the current percentage of the people in that county who live in an urban setting. In other words, the more urban a county is, the more likely it is that its population is currently larger than ever ... and the more rural it is, the likelier it is that its heyday, population-wise, was longer ago.

However, there's a noticeable, though much weaker, relationship (with a correlation coefficient of 0.18) between the year of a county's population peak, and its total current population. That's because there are a number of the nation's most populous counties, almost exclusively in the Northeast and Rust Belt, where the population nevertheless peaked several decades ago (most typically in 1970, which was something of a tipping point as freeway construction and suburbanization led to depopulation of many cities).

Cook Co., IL (Chicago); Cuyahoga Co., OH (Cleveland); and Wayne Co., MI (Detroit) all peaked that year, while New York Co., NY (Manhattan); Kings Co., NY (Brooklyn); Suffolk Co., MA (Boston); and Washington, DC, peaked a little earlier in 1950. That isn't to say that their metropolitan areas, as a whole, have plateaued; the suburban counties that surround them are larger than ever. And in most cases, with post-recession growth being heavily concentrated in cities (even more so than in suburbs), these urban counties have all rebounded from hitting bottom (usually around 1990) and are on track to hit new peaks in 2020 or 2030.

The newer cities of the Sun Belt and west coast, by contrast, are currently at their peaks ... and so, too, are pretty much any county that's even remotely within commuting distance of any major city. Instead, with the exception of the old-school cities, the counties that are off their population peaks are remote counties where the main economic activity was agriculture (all across the Great Plains, spilling over as far as Montana and Texas, but also in the Black Belt across the Deep South, and in the bottom lands near the Mississippi River) or mining (all across the spine of Appalachia from Kentucky into Pennsylvania, but also randomly dotting the Rockies and Sierras, and in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Minnesota's Iron Range). There's certainly less mining now than there was many decades ago, and probably fewer acres under cultivation as well ... but more importantly, farming and mining are simply less labor-intensive activities than they used to be, and don't need as many people present to do it.

You can also notice different gradations across the Great Plains, as you move from east to west, seemingly following the frontier as it got pushed steadily westward over the decades. The rural parts of Iowa and Missouri peaked in the late 1800s; the peak hit Kansas and Nebraska around 1900 and 1910; it washed over the Dakotas in the '20s and '30s; and it finally washed over eastern Montana and west Texas in the '30s and '40s. You can actually see the pattern of emptiness giving way to expansion, and then boom turning into bust, repeating itself, until finally there wasn't anywhere new left to move to.

This being a political website, though, you might be wondering: what's the political application of all this? Well, it speaks to the nature of the demographic change that's slowly remaking the country in a more Democratic-friendly way; many of the reddest parts of the country are also the places where their best days are behind them, population-wise. You've probably noticed some superficial commonalities between this map and the standard county-level red/blue map of presidential elections, if you focus on where the reddest areas are (across the High Plains down into Texas, and along the Appalachian arc) ... or maybe more accurately, a map showing the trend in presidential voting over the last few decades (in this case, the change in Partisan Voting Index from 1988 to 2012, as seen right below), which puts Appalachia and west Texas into particularly sharp relief.

Still, you'll notice a lot of other areas don't correspond very well: the Deep South's Black Belt may have peaked long ago in terms of population, but it's also a Democratic stronghold and even getting bluer as turnout improves there. Conversely, Utah is one of the fastest-growing parts of the country, and remains blood red. That's borne out when you look at the statistical relationship: when you correlate what year a county's population peaked with the percentage of its votes that went to Obama in 2012, the coefficient barely even registers at 0.11; in other words, if you're sitting in a county where the population peaked long ago, it's just as possible that, for instance, you're in a dark blue Rust Belt city as you are in the fields of west Texas.

But more importantly, the counties where the population peaked long ago simply aren't a dominant part of the overall political equation. Even though they account for half of the nation's total number of counties, they only account for about 68 million of the nation's residents (less than a quarter of the nation's population). Most of the growth in Democratic votes is in dynamic, still-growing counties ... but, then, so too is most of the growth in Republican votes.

There's still a good deal of polarization in where the parties' votes come from—the Democratic votes are disproportionately coming more and more in urban counties, while the Republicans are running up the score in sprawling exurbs that you may not even be familiar with (places like Montgomery Co., TX, and Forsyth Co., GA). We'll talk more about the other half of the equation—these growing counties—in next week's installment.

[Methodology: If you're wondering what tools I used to create this map, it's the terrific Open Heat Map, a free service where you can upload any geo-coded data set (either a .csv or a Google Doc) and it'll spit out a map of it. (If you're using county-level data like this, you'll need a FIPS code for each county.) The population data comes from Wikipedia, where some anonymous hero has compiled a table in each county's page that tracks its population over every single Census; all of that information is ultimately accessible at the Census's site, some of which I used to randomly double-check to make sure that the Wikipedia data is accurate, though pre-2000 Censuses are only available in more-difficult-to-work-with pdf form.]

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Dust bowl (6+ / 0-)

      and other stuff made rural depopulation in the 1930s astounding. A large county adjacent to mine lost 2/3 of its roads when the state got around to numbering them. I had no idea, since the county is growing quickly, filling up with subdivisions and strip malls, but the pavement (and gravel) mileage is still far less that what it used to be in dirt tracks, in the more rural parts of the county. I did sometimes come across them camping: grass tracks with old chimneys here and there.

    •  Great map (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, PeteZerria, Elwood Dowd

      I'd also like to see one which measures the time of the peak of each country as a percentage of the national population.  I think that you'd see even a more extreme pattern.

      There are no solved problems; there are only problems that are more or less solved. Henri Poincare

      by Bourbaki on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:11:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, that's good. (0+ / 0-)

        I'd like to see an ethnic migration map, as well, ie. Germans, Scotts, English, Jews, etc.

        “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

        by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:32:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This would be exceedingly hard to do as a time (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pluto, milkbone, jncca

          series, because of problems within question wording on the census and changing self-definitions of what it means to be these things let alone if the census even asked a particular question at a particular time (they have never asked, for instance, religious heritage).

          24 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

          by wwmiv on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:02:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Have you seen (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, Pluto

          this map before?

          It gives you some of what you want, though, it's a fixed point in time. If you wanted something that reflects migration across multiple decades, yeah, like wwmiv says, that kind of data would be near-impossible to track down and clean up into usable form, but certainly possible (though I think you'd need multiple maps, one for each ancestry).

          Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

          by David Jarman on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 09:57:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Many thanks. (0+ / 0-)

            I have a map I'd like to send you, along with a revealing hypothesis of mercantilism across the early American continent. Do check your Kosmail occasionally.

            “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

            by Pluto on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 06:41:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  To add onto that (0+ / 0-)

        It would be very interesting to see right before and for a few decades after the Civil War, which counties gained in population versus which lost, with deaths and immigrants  accounted for separately. We know about the losses, but what about all of those Dixie soldiers who had no home/family to go back to? They drifted far and wide. And the Great Migration was a sizable exodus of former slaves coming up here to the extreme opposite end of the country. I wonder if anything in our recent history even comes close to that much movement.

        Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

        by bull8807 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 02:05:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Population loss map? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    occupystephanie, Pluto, jes2
    •  My first thought, too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yoduuuh do or do not

      But then the meaning of the migratory patterns across time took over, as in the case of big ag or mining technologies.

      While the population of the US continues to grow, there is less and less human work necessary for people to live at a sustainable level.  

      “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

      by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:08:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •   Outstanding (14+ / 0-)

    I love maps.  Well done!

    "I will make this government truly work for those who pay for it." -Chris Christie 2014 Inaugural

    by thenekkidtruth on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:46:36 PM PST

  •  this is some incredible work (10+ / 0-)

    Having fun panning across the map.

    While its clear that we're trending blue, the GOP has been able to blunt the effect rather effectively with the BS gerrymandering. The losses we suffered in 2010 were devastating from that perspective. We have to get out and vote.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:50:01 PM PST

  •  I have to wonder what a place could be like (10+ / 0-)

    that actually has fewer residents now than it did in the 1800s -- let alone 1810 or 1820, like a couple of counties in Virginia. Are those places 100 percent mechanized agriculture now, or what?

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:57:02 PM PST

    •  In Virginia (11+ / 0-)

      it's probably a matter of tobacco farming counties that used to be a plantation economy, so, yes, changing in farming methods and the end of slavery mean that population peaked pre-Civil War. (The Census did count slaves, pre-Civil War, but I haven't been able to pin down whether the total population numbers during that time used the 3/5ths-of-a-person formulation.)

      Also, in a few cases, some counties have split apart over the years into multiple other counties, so the pre-split numbers would be larger than subsequent Censuses. I tried to account for that and weed those out, but there isn't one particularly good source for knowing when and where counties have split, so a few may have slipped through the cracks.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:14:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  trees (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mainly they're trees, vast acreage bought by timber companies just to sit on. But yes, farms too and they need far fewer workers. It's not so much tobacco,which was always planted in carefully allocated plots. It's corn, soy, peanuts, even cotton.

    •  Only guessing (0+ / 0-)

      but I think the reason for fewer residents in the plain states up through Montana is due to the land being purchased long ago and staying in private possession...

      6% of scientists are republican. Scientists have no explanation why that number is so high.

      by fugwb on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:25:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That and the railroad (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David Jarman

        Living in places like Council Bluffs, Iowa offered a huge opportunity for people to settle and set up business, even get rich. With all of the business brought in by the trains, it was much different than setting up shop in an isolated little town without much traffic (e.g. anywhere not close to he railroad stops). For a while it really looked like the major population centers were going to be based on those railroad stops. Those cities also had safe municipal water before anywhere else did, including NYC (I just found this out). People bunched up in the towns where the tracks were finished first, then expanded into the towns with new tracks, and I guess they eventually moved on from those towns too.

        Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

        by bull8807 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 09:19:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Your commentary on these maps (11+ / 0-)

    …is simply outstanding. I have never really approached such a robust understanding of national migration trends correlated with political tends, with interesting pockets of their opposite. The juxtaposition of these two maps also leads to other important and telling trends in industrial and technological economics.

    God only knows what other universal patterns could be extrapolated from these two.

    Oh, and good work getting the interactive versions embedded directly in the article. Kudos to whomever worked that out.


    “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

    by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:02:01 PM PST

  •  Beautiful work! (5+ / 0-)

    Oregon has been getting more people. Maybe climate change refugees? We can boast "less drought" than California but not by much (25% vs their 14% of their respective water years).

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:03:22 PM PST

  •  About this: (11+ / 0-)
    the counties where the population peaked long ago simply aren't a dominant part of the overall political equation.
    Not if you look at the Senate.

    Rural counties control a number of Senate seats way out of proportion to their population.

    This is something of a defect in the map. It doesn't differentiate between counties with real, average-plus population growth, and those with tiny growth. Both register as yellow on the map. There are swathes of yellow on the map that really should be marked as stable instead of growing.

    This is especially true in places like Wyoming, which is labeled as all growth, but has significant parts that are really mostly stable.

    Out-size impact on the Senate is one reason the right-wing went after rural radio stations.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:05:41 PM PST

    •  BTW, I did enjoy the diary :) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, thanatokephaloides

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:06:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Explains Texas too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but hopefully not for too much longer.

    •  The Senate is becoming a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, jes2, hypernaught

      …constitutional flaw.

      Certainly each state should have one senator. But a second should not come until 6 million population is reached. Then a third at 9 million and so forth. (Based on 300 million total population.)

      “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

      by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:13:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I understand it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, thanatokephaloides

        and I claim no expertise.

        The per-state representation and the per-capita representation went together as a compromise.

        You set forth an intriguing idea, but is it different than a half-way turn toward complete per-capita representation?

        •  Every state is awarded one Senator (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          …where very populous states receive more senators, while the total number holds at 100.

          That keeps the separation of branches intact, whilst doing the most good for the most people -- which is the only point of forming a central government in the first place.

          It's a 21st century issue, unless secession is still on the table.

          “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

          by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:32:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's been a long time, but as I remember, the (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jes2, Pluto, mahartley, bartcopfan

            method of assigning Representatives and Senators was purposefully done to prevent highly populated states from completely dominating lower population states. Maintaining parity of power between the states, and all that. Join the Union, get equal terms between states in the Senate, proportional terms between states in the House.

            What you propose may maintain separation of branches, but it completely neuters lower population states. Rather than telling the small fry that their votes will no longer have a meaningful effect on policy, you might as well get rid of the concept of statehood entirely and just have a central government for the entire nation.

            I'm sure that will go over well.

            Or am I just missing the whimsy?

            •  The concept is true (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pluto, bartcopfan

              However, I am not sure they ever expected some states (California and Texas) to be behemoths in population size and have average cities in those states equal to the sizes of other states (North Dakota or Delaware).

              Remember that the House of Representatives was to be based on a relatively close population size, but was capped at 435 representatives. At that point, the whole basis of House members representing equally sized districts went out the window.

              As another poster posited, it would be interesting to cap the total amount of senators (still at 100), but only offer the minimum of one seat per state (so there would be 50 as the base.) The other 50 seats would be awarded based on the population size of the largest states.

              I think the smaller states would still be protected (but not to such a large degree as today), since there would still be a fairly large block of small states that would equal the super large states.

              Of course, none of this would ever hope of changing, since no small state would agree to cutting its own throat.

            •  Using a sliding scale (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              wouldn't completely neuter the Senatorial power of low-population states. It would substantially reduce it, but IMO that's a good thing.

              The population differences between the states are immensely vaster now than 220 years ago. The power of low-population states has grow in direct proportion to that gap.

              We're now in a situation where a block of states containing a mere 15% of the population can directly block legislation in the entire country based solely on Senate voting. Add committee powers on top of that. Vesting that much power in such a small minority of the population is, IMO, completely ridiculous.

              "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

              by nosleep4u on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:51:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I really like that idea... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Of course, only in our dreams could it happen.

            I ran through the numbers to see how it would work out based on your 3 million bump:

            Based on the 2012 data, if you use 6 million as the level to get a second senator, then only 18 states would qualify for more than one senator.

            If the cut off was for 9 million for the 3rd senator, then only 10 states for qualify for the trifecta.

            That would bring you up to 78 seats.

            The states with the most senators would be Illinois and Pennsylvania with four. Florida and New York with six. Texas with 8 senators. And, the great state of California with an even dozen senators.  

            Works out to be 100 on the nose.

            The only downside would be what type of mess my state of Texas would be in with having to find 6 additional Republican senators. I can only imagine Senators Stockman, Gohmert, Barton and Sessions.

            The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

      •  Or we should redraw state boundaries (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, thanatokephaloides

        so that Senate representation is less lopsided, and perhaps more faithful to areas with shared interests. I mean, are Wyoming, Montana and Idaho so different that they need two senators each? Or Washington and Oregon, or Mississippi and Alabama?

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:09:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am a big believer in US regional (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides, jes2


          One senator per state plus regional senators to 100 is an ideal solution with the environment in mind.

          “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

          by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:34:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  On the other hand (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thanatokephaloides, Pluto

          Texas is incredibly diverse, but do you really want to divide it into five states?  With ten Senators?  I'm thinking bad idea....from a strictly short-term and progressive political point of view.

          •  Nope. You had the best solution already. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Texas should have one senator and 5 regional senators  it shares with other states -- assuming the US has 10 economic/environment regions (which  it does).

            I'm going to assign you to write this section of the New US Constitution.

            “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

            by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:22:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wait. That was Geenius. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              But still, you make the excellent point that leads to his elegant solution.

              “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

              by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:37:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Sparse population (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, Pluto

      and other stuff made Nevada's the most buyable senators in the country when it first became a state. The population was tiny, the monied interests were huge, due to the silver mines.

      •  And then, the mob and Vegas, Baby, Vegas. (0+ / 0-)

        “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

        by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:38:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It amazes me how. . . (3+ / 0-)

    . . .red some of the red states are.

    If we are going to elect Democrats, lets elect real ones!

    by waztec on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:11:51 PM PST

  •  some of those areas in eastern Oregon (5+ / 0-)

    are experiencing some newfound prosperity as a result of wind farms being built. It's made some farmers rich.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:11:52 PM PST

    •  That's interesting. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I bet they are afraid that Rush will find out what they have done.

      “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

      by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:39:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the county that peaked first, Sherman (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is the home of this guy, a rancher who just quit his campaign as a Republican for governor. He advocated raising the minimum wage, gay marriage, and legal abortion. The Republicans who represent northeastern Oregon do tend to be more moderate, but that was kind of bizarre.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 08:39:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  St. Joseph County, Indiana (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    Still growing!

    25, Practical Progressive Democratic Socialist (-9.38, -8.51), Gay, IN-02 - Defeat Wacky Jackie!

    by HoosierD42 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:27:17 PM PST

  •  My own personal population has been one since the (3+ / 0-)

    day I was born. I think I'm guaranteed a  lifetime of consistency on thar scpre.

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:30:51 PM PST

  •  Holy crap! My county is at its peak now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I live in Winnebago County, Illinois, which holds the city of Rockford, IL, which has been around 150,000 people for the last 25 years and not gone up very much.  The city also has been hit very hard by the Great Recession and even the two recessions prior to that in 1980 and 2000.  But the suburban towns of Loves Park, Machesney Park, and Cherry Valley have all grown since that time, and the towns of Rockton, Roscoe, and Winnebago are all growing from one-light towns to having a lot of newer subdivisions.

    •  I would hope that the outlying growth... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...would not lead to loss of agricultural land in Winnebago County, as it has in the Chicago-area counties. We're moving to Stephenson County this year, and that's primarily agricultural, that I hope stays that way.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:34:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    I've been wondering lately if Air Conditioning made for the great southern migration, is Climate Change going to create a great northern migration? That may also support the "getting bluer" thesis embedded in this diary.

  •  My county touches (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    Montgomery County, Texas.  We both peaked in population 2010.
    The vote trend map is similar.  
    I am not sure how to interpret the trend map.
    I can say Montgomery County completely dominates our district's appellate court.  And they do not have any democrats in office, that I am aware of.
    We do in San Jacinto County, but this election may wipe out 7 of the remaining 9 dems incumbents on the ballot.  

  •  The map says a lot about how Pa. changing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    demographics is turning it bluer. Look at all the red/purple in the southwest and north central (GOP territory trending) and non-red in the southeast. And population gains mostly in the southeast (some in Republicanish southcentral-but much fewer population) and northeast turning bluer.

  •  wonderful work (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayC, thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    thanks so much.  And especially thank you for describing the tool set you used.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 05:46:17 PM PST

  •  One more factor: the pill (6+ / 0-)

    That may be the case in my county which peaked in 1960. Pre-peak, big families were the norm. 10 or 12 kids was not uncommon. It's a Catholic county, but the church's views on birth control have largely ignored for decades.

  •  Wow. This gave me a nerdgasm. :) (5+ / 0-)

    I love me some data.  Interactive is just gravy.  

  •  earliest (8+ / 0-)

    The earliest county I found was 1810: Buckingham County, Va., still very rural with two notable industries besides farming: slate cutting and kyanite mining. And a prison, where one of the Abu Ghraib guards worked before going to Iraq. The slate cutting works are old and involve a lot of old fashioned manual labor, and what they produce is still quite valuable. The kyanite mountain is half gone; it's used in ceramics.

    But the county boundaries in Va. have changed radically over the years. B'ham lost a fraction of its territory to a new county between 1840 and 1850, which is also the decade of the largest population drop on the Wikipedia page. Other counties are a tiny portion of what they used to be, but that was so early it wouldn't affect your map. Great map of county changes here:

    The population of B'ham has been on the rise since the 1970 census, since it is an exurb to three different small cities based around colleges and other providence.

  •  Thanks for your labor on this! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    Turning a mass of numerical data into more easily grasped graphical presentations is amazingly useful!

  •  I can't read the dates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, mommyof3

    for counties in eastern states.  The dates are past the edge of the window, make it impossible to read them.

    -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

    by gizmo59 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:28:24 PM PST

    •  Grab and drag (7+ / 0-)

      the map. It'll scroll to the left, so you can see the dates on the east coast counties. You can zoom, too.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:09:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your number crunching! Émigrés? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thanks for the data, and for sharing your methodology and the software service you use. Much appreciated!

        I'm curious what happens with the voting patterns of people who emigrate from red counties to blue counties. Do they tend to change to Democratic votes? Vote the same, but not affect others? Or (shudder) convert others to vote GOP? That's harder data to get, maybe there are surveys/polls?

        I have only one anecdote to go on: an old guy (70s) from Texas, who was active in his local Republican district in Texas, then moved to a blue county in WA, switched parties, and became somewhat active for Democrats. For him I think it was more a social consideration than a partisan, ideological or issue-based one. He liked being active with other people who care about their community, and I guess the WA Dems were more sociable. (That may be another reason for running candidates in every race, keeping hope alive and staying active as a party even in all-red districts?)

        •  That's an interesting question (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BvueDem, bartcopfan

          and unfortunately anecdotes is the best way we have to approach it. I think your example is probably more exception than rule, though; people tend to bring their politics within them when they move. For instance, Jewish retirees moving to, say, Palm Beach or Broward Cos. from the Northeast have made Florida a little bluer, and the same is true with knowledge-sector workers from all over the country moving to Raleigh/Durham. (I'm hard pressed to think of a pro-GOP counterexample; maybe conservatives fleeing Orange County for the Idaho Panhandle (which, believe it or not, used to be the Democratic part of Idaho) have made that part of the state even redder.)

          I did a quick search for poli sci research on that topic, and if anything, the opposite dynamic is at work:  people are likely to move to places where they're already an ideological fit, rather than moving somewhere that isn't a good fit, and then either changing their own ideology or seeking to change everyone else's ideology.

          Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

          by David Jarman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 10:32:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I love this! Fascinating!! . . s/t (5+ / 0-)

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:37:48 PM PST

  •  1840 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Pluto

    Really surprised to see that my county peaked as far back as 1840.   Also surprised to see Indiana looking as blue as it does.  It doesn't feel all that blue around here, but maybe there's hope for us.

  •  thanks for the tip -- just created a map (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, David Jarman, bartcopfan

    It took me about an hour to figure out how they wanted the columns formatted, but finally! Here's a (rather unrelated) map of the percentage of population that was enslaved in each state acc. to US census figures from 1790 to 1860. (Data I had compiled as part of an argument with a trog who claimed that the Civil War wasn't about slavery because there were also slaves in the North...)

    Note, click on the arrow at the bottom of the map and the decades will roll by, a little too fast for my taste but that's ok.

    •  You did this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Very nice original work!

      Yeah it goes by too fast, but still.

      Also, the commentary analysis would be most welcome. Now I understand Texas' role in the Civil War. Finally.

      “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

      by Pluto on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:47:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This map is WRONG (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Jarman, davybaby

    New York (county) peaked in 1910 NOT 1950.

    1910: 2.3 million
    1950: 1.9 million

  •  U. P. of Michigan (0+ / 0-)

    Menominee County peaked in 1910 during the logging boom.  Logging is still the #3 biggest producer in the state after manufacturing and agriculture, but with mechanization, 2 men do the work of 30 and several teams of horses.  Menominee and Mellen Townships  at the southernmost tip have been gaining in population while the rest of the county is losing population.  

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 08:15:38 PM PST

  •  Not sure what coefficient means here (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry but I don't know how to interpret the numbers on the election map, i.e. " the coefficient barely even registers at 0.11" - what does it represent? What does 3.82 mean in Snohomish County WA? etc.

    Ginny Mayer, Ph.D. Democrat CA State Senate Candidate - SD-35 (Orange County)

    by Ginny Mayer on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 08:33:22 PM PST

    •  Those are (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fredamae, bartcopfan

      two separate concepts. The 0.11 figure is the correlation between the year the population peaked, and the percentage of votes that Obama got in that county in 2012. When you're talking about correlation coefficients, 1 means perfect correspondence, and a 0 means no relationship whatsoever (just random noise), so 0.11 is much closer to the 'random noise' end of the spectrum.

      As for a 3.82 in Snohomish County on the second map, that means that the Partisan Voting Index is 3.82 higher in 2012 than it was in 1988, meaning that it has trended a small amount in the Democratic direction. If you aren't familiar with PVI, that's how far a place's vote varies from the national average. For instance, in 2012, Obama got 57% in Snohomish Co., while getting 51% nationally, which is D+6. In 1988, Dukakis got 48% in Snohomish Co while getting 46% nationally, which is D+2. So, the difference is approximately 4.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 10:15:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and rec'd for pure geek pleasure. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vamulticulturalist, bartcopfan

    It's great data to have around, and it explains SO much.

    Take a look at what is considered Appalachia (use the legally definitive maps from the Appalachian Regional Commission) and compare 'peak population' to economic status, high school completion rates, and the like.

    If you want a really interesting visual, superimpose a map of the Interstate Highway System atop either the peak population map or the Appalachian economic maps...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:35:02 PM PST

  •  Combine this with aquifer data. (0+ / 0-)

    Should be interesting. Should be frightening.

  •  Sierra, California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Peaked with the Gold Rush. Notable among Cali counties...

  •  Delaware County, PA bucks the trend. (0+ / 0-)

    It moved the farthest left in both the state and in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, while at the same time its population peaked in the 1970s.

    Impractical progressive Democrat.

    by redrelic17 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 11:49:58 PM PST

  •  My country, Lackawanna PA peaked in 1930 (0+ / 0-)

    Anthracite mines disappearing along with all those families of miners available for work in all the mills.

    Some of those awful mining disasters hastened the process. We still have mine fires though to keep the legacy going.

    “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by astrogeology girl on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:34:47 AM PST

  •  Population in Eastern WA hasn't peaked (0+ / 0-)

    Spokane County just surpassed 500,000 and the metro area is around 700,000 and climbing.

    2010 was the highest latest census, but come 2020 it will definitely see a large jump.

  •  Depressing (0+ / 0-)

    WAY too many moving into King county WA

  •  Maps Not Opening in Firefox (0+ / 0-)

    Working OK in Internet Exploder.

    That's an issue for, I suppose.

    Ideology: A set of assumptions so appealing that one looks at their abstract logic rather than at how the world actually works. -Michael Hudson

    by Justus on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 05:27:55 AM PST

  •  Population (0+ / 0-)

    I donate to the Center for Biological Diversity
    The message is everyone born here and every
    immigrant that comes here wants four kids and an air conditioner and a minivan.  There are WAY too many humans.  Why I know people who have loads of boys and keep trying to get a girl.  And I am sure everyone knows people like that. We need to address population problems
    such as the environment, pollution is caused by humans.
    NY Times today book review the SIXTH Extinction blames it all on Mankind.  There are animals that will only be seen in zoos.
    Such a shame.

  •  "The Democrat War on Rural American Population" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What you'll be seeing 200 times a day for a month if the Fox "News" Propaganda Channel gets ahold of this map.

    "Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?" - General Jack D. Ripper

    by wilder5121 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:06:11 AM PST

  •  You are incorrectly calling that "West" Texas. (0+ / 0-)

    This is just a quibble of mine.  Love the map and article.

    The area with all of the red is known by several names, but it's NOT West Texas.  It's the panhandle plains, the central plains, the great plains -- a combination of these areas.  Note that some of the coastal plains, or "east" Texas is also very red.

    "West Texas" is the area most west, and lower on the map.  It includes Brewster County, for example.  These areas are purple and even blue.

    What we natives call ''West" Texas is the mountainous areas, the Big Bend region.

    Here are some links to maps which will give you a better understanding of the regions of Texas.

  •  Fascinating! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm originally from the interior Northeast (eastern Upstate New York), and I'm surprised to see that nearby counties are just now peaking.  Unless prison populations are counted in Census figures?  My home county, Clinton, peaked in 1990, which makes sense: the air force base closed in 1995.  There's a massive "brain drain" out of the area as every young person who can afford to leave, does so, either for college or immediately upon graduation.  But there's not a whole lot else going on in any of the  far Upstate NY counties... unless we're counting prisoners or dairy cows.

    "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom." -- G.W.Carver

    by northbronx on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 02:00:12 PM PST

  •  The work is very interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Jarman

    I like it a lot.

    Since a politic point, it would be very very interesting a map to see when the Democratic vote peaked in presidential elections in every county.

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