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FF Sparks (Casual)

[Politics] Electoral Maps

Even more than the just plain purple-shaded map of states or counties, these maps give me pause for thought. I'm not sure if this means that Kerry (or at least, a more Democratic platform) was of high priority to people in urban and highly-populated areas, or what.

The thing which made me pause for thought was that I wonder if this has any correlation with the funding numbers I've heard quoted. I.e. that all but one of the top 10 states in terms of money paid into federal programs were blue states which went Kerry, and all of the top 10 states who demand money from federal programs for things were red states which went Bush.

It reminds me of the quote of President Bartlett's during the debates on 'West Wing.' The guy running against him decries the use of taxpayer money in federal programs for education and whatnot, saying that it should be left in the hands of local communities. Bartlett's reply was along the lines of, "It's interesting that you'd say that, since your state requests more federal funding aid than any other," and reeling off numbers. Then he concludes with something along the lines, "So my question for my opponent is... may I have the money back?" Wish I could find the original scene offhand, because it's so perfectly executed...

At the time, I thought 'ah, Aaron Sorkin, wonderful dialogue writer,' but it seems like the point behind it is somewhat true and relevant as well.

Comments

Maybe the Kerry campaign should have hired Sorkin as a debate coach?
I have, alas, made this comment before to amezuki and bayushi...
That's an interesting question, and I'm not quite sure how to answer it.

I think it's worth nothing that the population centers are certainly where a lot of the money comes from. There are, in correlation, more schools in the blue or purer purple areas, too (Austin, for example, is a pretty liberal stronghold in the center of Texas.) So far as I've seen it, at least, generally younger populations tend to be more liberal. The big colleges and universities of note tend to be more liberal, too.

On the other hand, the amount of federal funding some place gets is dependent upon so many things. Ever-popular pork programs, of course. But also medicare and social security factor into this. I would hazard to guess that other things, such as funding from various research programs, might factor in too, although it's just a guess.

The amount they pay out is in part dependent on the overall income of the area, too. The states that pay out the most have more cash, and the progressive tax system reflects that/causes that.

Interesting analysis at the Tax Foundation here: http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxingspending.html
Er, worth /noting/, that is. Not worth nothing :)

Great maps. Thanks.

Maybe my comments will turn into a runaway catchall of differences, but let's give it a shot anyway.

  • The marriage gap (sometimes called the gender gap): Unmarried people are more likely to vote Democratic. Married people are more likely to vote Republican. It is a guess to explain why, but perhaps unmarrieds expect government to cover the risks that would otherwise be covered by a family. An increase in marriage will tend to bend the country toward Republicans.

  • In a city, there is a larger role for government in general: The zoning laws, the covenants of a sub-division, the mitigation that must be done for the sake of your neighbors. In the country, cutting down a tree is primarily a problem of equipment choice, muscle, and an eye toward safety. In the city, cutting down a tree, is primarily a problem of need, permission, and paying an arborist to do it for you. In the country, your neighbors will hardly care, and their views will hardly be affected by your downed tree. In the city, anyone within 300 ft of your property has a voice. Increased population density tends to bend the county toward Democrats.

  • A mobile population. As our school and jobs spread us across the country, and we are separated from our extended family, our politics tends to bend toward the left.

  • Government is a replacement for religion for some. As you might expect, as you move into more urban areas and are exposed to a wider range of thought, many people discard their parents religion.

All of this is at a most general level. I'm not saying that religion, marriage, or cities are either good or bad.

Interesting maps. That almost makes me wonder if the number of electoral votes alotted per state should be better adjusted to reflect true, current populations.
Each state gets one electoral vote per representative in the House of Representatives, plus one additional electoral vote to represent their two Senators. I don't pretend to understand how the number of representatives is allocated. I know there's a system, though. :)

They get one per representative, and one for each Senator. The minimum per state is three.

At one time, the ratio of representatives was fixed at 1 per 30,000, but as the population grew, so grew the House of Representatives until its size became unwieldly. At that time, they changed the Constitution to fix the size of the House at 438 and apportion those seats according to the population.

Of course, the House remains unwieldly to this day.

Well, 435, actually. It was 437 after Hawaii and Alaska came in, then adjusted back to 435 at the 1960 census.

Some of the territories do have representatives, but they don't vote. (DC and Puerto Rico, for example.)

Oh, that's where the missing three votes went! The 23rd amendment describes that the District of Columbia gets 3 electors (as if it were a state, but no more than least populated state).

So, change all my references to 438 to 435. 435 House Members, 100 Senators, and 3 Electors from DC.

There is a national census every ten years. The current Electoral College is based on the April 1st, 2000 Census. Supposedly, each legislative district contains roughly the same number of people. As you can imagine, every ten years, there is a fight over which districts need to be changed and a fight over how to change them.

Each district is also intended to have a reasonable, coherent shape. Forming long, skinny, mutant districts is called gerrymandering.