Politics At Large (And In SARS)

Richard links to an article by Robert David Sullivan that proposes a new way to analyze political results.

So CommonWealth decided to make a map of our own. Aiming somewhere between the reductionist red-and-blue model and the most accurate (but least useful) subdivision of the United States into infinity, we split the county into 10 regions, each with a distinct political character. Our regions are based on voting returns from both national and state elections, demographic data from the US Census, and certain geographic features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. [...] Each region represents about one-tenth of the national electorate, casting between 10.4 million and 10.8 million votes in the 2000 presidential election.

Some states fall entirely within a region, but many are split between two or more. Electoral votes follow state boundaries, but populations don’t, and the social characteristics that influence politics spill over jurisdictional lines. Rural sections of adjacent states often have more in common, culturally and politically, with each other than with the urban and suburban population centers of their states. If political campaigns can translate media markets into electoral votes, why not regional identities that cross state lines? [...]

That role becomes clear in CommonWealth’s analysis of recent national elections (See “Continental Divides”): No winner of a presidential election has carried fewer than five regions in at least three decades.

Duane Bickels exclaims, “Yee-Haw! My Vote Cancels Out Y’Alls!”

Shoot, neighbor, if there’s one type’a guy you don’t want in charge, it’s some damn weaklin’ in the White House what won’t kick enough ass. Bush, that guy we got now, he kicked him some ass in that old desert. And Bush’s daddy? He kicked him some ass, too. Reagan? Kicked all the ass he could, and some they said he shouldn’t! But Clinton? Barely no ass-kickin’ at all. Just got his ol’ joint tugged by a fat girl, and hell, I could do that down by the Dew Drop Inn off I-78. What’s the damn use of bein’ the Commander-Chief if that’s all you’re gonna do? Face it, bein’ president is a job of work for ass-kickers, and if you say otherwise, hell, I got a vote here what totally negates yours.

So maybe you ain’t a patriot like I am. Now, when I say patriot, I’m talkin’ about most of our athletes, country-music stars, and guys like me what agree with them. So, say you ain’t a patriot, and you’re fixin’ to vote up a candidate what’s some limpo what’ll give in to the crybaby liberals, the damn screechin’ women, the commies at the United Nations, and the other America-haters. Fine by me! I got a vote here that does just as much good as yours, and mine’s marked “No Limpos!”

Ryan Overbey comments:

All my New Englander friends may think this is a caricature. Ha ha, funny! But it’s more than that, it’s pretty damn close to the truth. Go to the Red counties of America, and you will meet people like this. They might phrase it differently, borrowing spoonfed memes from press-releases and media outlets, but it’s the same sentiment exactly. There are real people out there who, when they say “strong on defense”, actually mean “kick some damn ass.”