Red Counties / Blue Counties

November 04, 2004

One of the current grieving mechanisms among the lefty blogosphere is a wish to see the blue (Democratic) states effectively withdraw their support from the national covenant in an attempt to punish or sabotage the red (Republican) states.

Nice wishful thinking, impossible policy. Why?

Take a look at these county vote maps from 2000 and 2004, courtesy of James Joyner. Notice that the real pattern is not red state, blue states but red counties, blue counties. Where are the Democratic votes: The northeast corridor, the California Coast, the Mississippi river valley, the black belt, and parts of coal country. Democrats are moist and urban. The rest of the country, inland, dry, and rural, is Republican. As many have pointed out, this was in many ways an election between urban and rural values.

The irony, of course, is that there is nothing that says that rural has to be conservative. In fact, from the 1870s through the 1920s many rural voters were populist or even socialist (Oklahoma in the 1910s saw a strong correlation between rural counties, fundamentalist religion, and socialist party membership - before the Wilson administration censored the political mail during WW1, crippling the rural network and letting the urban immigrant wing of the American socialist party take over.)

The challenge for Democrats will be to craft a new approach that: embraces fundamental liberties, embraces the use of community and government power to limit the abuses of economic power, encourages individuals to achieve their dreams, and focuses on achieving a better society rather than on hitting some feel-good personal buttons. I want to see the social gospel come back. I want to see the better aspects of the Populist movement - the real one - come back. I want to see a nation that embraces fundamental human liberties, for everyone, rather than making part of our community scapegoats for fear and loathing.

I have no money. I have no time. I have to write more of my own work.

And yet, this election has made me want to run for office in my own right, because darn it we can do better. (I am too shy to do well, but it is a nice pipe dream.)

EDIT: from Rob Vanderbei at Princeton, we have this Red/Blue/Purple county map. This is good mapping. (Now to get a U.S. map with counties scaled by population and do the same thing.)

Posted by Red Ted at November 4, 2004 09:03 AM | TrackBack

"feel-good personal buttons". That about sums it up. There's a huge amount of dissatisfaction among conservatives with the Republican party, but the arogance and shrill lecturing of the vocal fringe on the left caused a lot of people to just hold their nose and vote for something closer to sanity.

Posted by: Ted at November 4, 2004 01:53 PM

Hey, I can comment again! :) For a while your place wouldn't let me, and I think the one time I tried to email you, that failed too.

Posted by: Ted at November 4, 2004 01:55 PM

Glad to have you back.

Posted by: Ted K at November 4, 2004 05:14 PM

Purple county cartogram:

Posted by: abby at November 6, 2004 10:28 AM
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