The Purple Nation

Based on the current domination of the Federal government of the United Stated by Republicans, we have the feeling that the country is heavily Republican. This is further driven home by election maps that show most of the country colored red. However, we have to realize that the current state of government is an artifact of the "winner take all" form of democracy that we use. The real state of the nation is that it is very evenly divided as far as vote tallies go. There is no mandate, at least not on a national scale.

To get a sense for the true state of the political climate of the country, it is helpful to change the way we look at election results. Below is the typical map shown after the 2004 presidential elections*:

red and blue map of the US

This skews our view of the country because it represents area, which has nothing to do with voting results. Votes are cast by people, not by land masses. So instead of a two color view, some clever people* have created a view that ranges from red to blue with shades of purple between. In addition, the map is redrawn to represent population masses instead of land masses; this is a much better indication of the true climate of the country.

purple map of the US

Note that parts of the country with higher population density are bigger and tend toward blue; parts of the country with lower population density are smaller and tend toward red. And purple dominates the image.

* Images on this page come from Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results; Copyright 2004 M. T. Gastner, C. R. Shalizi, and M. E. J. Newman.