Political Geography


It's interesting to think of the recent presidential election in terms of the lower-48 geographical area. The southern tips of Florida and Texas are situated at about the 25th parallel, while the northern borders of Maine and Washington are at about the 48th-49th parallel. The country is more-or-less split, election-wise, at about the 40th parallel (passes roughly through Columbus, Ohio, and Boulder, Colorado), with almost half of the area north of it made up of red (republican majority-voting) states and, with the exception of southern California and the southern half of Illinois, made up in the area south of it totally of red states. This leaves just over half the area north of the 40th parallel made up of blue (democrat voting-majority) states, and none of the area south of it, with the two exceptions noted above. This is based on a visual sighting of the map, not on the actual land area measurements, but it's pretty close to the actual facts. When huge northern Alaska (mostly between parallels 60 and 70) is added to the red states and tiny Hawaii (about the 20th parallel) to the blue area, the disparity grows even larger, with the blue area at about a third or less of the total land area of the country.

So, the election was not a North/South thing, since all of the South and at least half of the North went red, with respect to land area. The difference is not even an East/West thing, since only five states west of the Mississippi River went blue, counting Hawaii and presuming all of Minnesota to be west of the river. When the vote count is considered in terms of counties, there's virtually no contest…practically the whole nation being red. In Nebraska and Oklahoma there was not even one blue county, and in Kansas only two. Four of the six most populous states, California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, went blue for Kerry, delivering 128 electoral votes, nearly half of the 270 needed to win. Only Texas and Florida, red states with a total of 61 votes, were in the top six. The three largest cities in the nation, Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, were in the blue states.

So, it's a regional thing. Three regions went blue, the solid Northeast (including New York and Pennsylvania) south to Delaware; the North Middle - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan; the West Coast - Washington, Oregon, and California. The vast middle of the country from the Canadian border south to Mexico and the Gulf and over to the East Coast from Virginia south to the Caribbean went red for Bush. The population of New York City is 8.1 million, although the responsible United Nations agency pegs the count in the metropolitan area at about 16.7 million, or roughly 87 percent of the state's population. The same agency pegs the metro area of Los Angeles at 13.2 million, or about 37 percent of California's population. Nearly one-fourth of Illinois' citizens live in Chicago proper. It would appear that the Democrat Party relies heavily on the largest cities and their environs to turn out the blue vote, there being little doubt that the vote in those cities determine the state vote.

The large cities, at least in the industrial states, are the hotbeds of welfare-statism, the locations of most union members, and probably the locations of the most crooked politics and politicians. Added to that mix are giant universities, whose faculties are heavily democratic and to whose liberal and ultra-liberal philosophies thousands of impressionable students are exposed. Multitudes of these young people as well as thousands of union members form the sidewalk-pounding cadres that go door to door for blue candidates and do the myriad other jobs carried out by the volunteers. Voting irregularities in places like Chicago have become legend through the years. Indeed, it is certainly possible if not probable, according to many election-watchers, that this alleged "irregular" vote was decisive in the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon. Recipients in the cities of the many kinds of government entitlements (handouts) are held on the blue reservation or, as some say, plantation, by the promises of democrats to keep the aid (and push for consequent votes) coming.

Differences throughout the regions noted above can be categorized fairly well as accruing to liberal or conservative thought with respect to the responsibilities government has toward the people, as well as to the character of the people in government. The most well-known newspapers in the large cities are usually liberal, though not nearly as highly respected as once was the case. The New York Times, perhaps the most important of these huge dailies, has been rocked repeatedly in recent years by its own admission of reporter-wrongdoing and dishonesty. The Washington Post, perhaps the second most important, has been rocked by revelations of fictionalized news accounts. Both papers have routinely and maliciously castigated president Bush during his tenure, as well as before, and continue to do so. CBS, once the highly respected and leading TV network in the gathering and disseminating of news, was brought low this election season by its attempting to use forged documents in its effort to bring off a Bush defeat. Indeed, former CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, at one time the most highly respected news anchor in the business, implied recently that Bush campaign manager Karl Rove had probably conspired with Osama bin Laden in the airing of the infamous bin Laden tape shortly before the election on November 2. It doesn't get much lower than this.

Much has been made of the variance in philosophies with respect to something called "values" between the blues and reds. There may be something to this, although it's not a subject here. How many times people attend church or what they believe about same-sex marriage and abortion no doubt has forged a mind-set that causes people to judge the candidates on matters such as these. Without question, the people of faith were collectively red and the majority of them live in the vast red-area regions; however 47 percent of Catholics and 75 percent of Jews voted blue, and they are big-city people, although Catholics live pretty much throughout the country.

The most amazing conclusion to be drawn is the simple fact that the election can be decided in a very small land area, especially in states where voters in three large cities can decide the outcome. This is true because the election was so close and would have gone the other way if the blues could have carried Ohio, just one more state. Its third largest city, Cincinnati, went red. Would that have been enough?