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The Swinging States of America
October 15, 2012 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Over the Decades, How States Have Shifted
posted by shoesfullofdust (45 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
by Mike Bostock and Shan Carter.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 6:04 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


States haven't shifted. Parties have. Republicans used to be the party of the owners, Democrats used to the party of the working man. Now they are both the party of the owners-pretending-to-be-working-men and working-men-who-aspire-to-be-owners.
posted by DU at 6:04 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was looking at this earlier. Man, the history of the Southern states is so much more complex than I realized. What the fuck happened in 1968 between Humphrey and Nixon? Why were some, but not all, Southern states so hot on Humphrey?
posted by yoink at 6:05 PM on October 15, 2012


States haven't shifted. Parties have. Republicans used to be the party of the owners, Democrats used to the party of the working man.

This theory is in no way borne out by the chart. States move in all kinds of erratic ways which are not reflective of major demographic shifts from being "owners" to "working men" or vice versa. See, e.g. the 1968 election I mentioned above.
posted by yoink at 6:07 PM on October 15, 2012


DU: "States haven't shifted. Parties have. Republicans used to be the party of the owners, Democrats used to the party of the working man. Now they are both the party of the owners-pretending-to-be-working-men and working-men-who-aspire-to-be-owners"

WTF? How is that comment in any way related to the post? The linked infographic thing is really pretty incredibly well done. States have, in fact, shifted dramatically and interestingly over the years. You shouldn't take the opportunity to make a throwaway comment about some talking point you think is relevant to EVERY political post.
posted by Perplexity at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2012 [30 favorites]


Man, Barry Goldwater got his ass kicked.
posted by eugenen at 6:13 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The infographic doesn't work for me, but the text says: ...in the past, many more states shifted between the Democratic and Republican parties.

There's also a bunch of text obscured by other text, but by creative highlighting and whatnot, I think I now see they are talking about rapid alternating over a long period, not a long, slow change over that same period.
posted by DU at 6:13 PM on October 15, 2012


I have no idea what to make of it historically but I think it is a beautifully done infographic. Click the buttons to hilight the state's path over time. Whatever else is true of the NYT they are really at the forefront of new ways of representing data.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:14 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]



I was looking at this earlier. Man, the history of the Southern states is so much more complex than I realized. What the fuck happened in 1968 between Humphrey and Nixon? Why were some, but not all, Southern states so hot on Humphrey?

Actually 1968 stats would be a bit misleading as that was a year that George Wallace was running. At least in my North Carolina area THAT is who quite a few white adults were voting for. I suspect that the Black vote would have been for Humphrey but as I was in fourth grade at the time all I can really tell you is that in our classroom Nixon was second to Wallace. As for Humphrey? We had one day in class when one of us had to stand up and give a little speech for each candidate and I stood for Humphrey only because literally no one else in the classroom was interested.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, in the South, many people voted for Democrat politicians but you have to remember, back then Southern Democrat politicians were very conservative.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:17 PM on October 15, 2012


At the bottom of the page: "In 1960, 1968 and 1972, some electoral votes were unpledged or allocated to a third-party candidate; for these years, the displayed electoral vote totals are less than 538."
posted by shoesfullofdust at 6:19 PM on October 15, 2012


Very nifty! Does anyone know of a similar resource where you can select specific states for comparison?

That interface is terrible! Keeps switching which state's selected, no good way of getting the mouse out of the way without selecting a different state, smaller states barely being selectable at all...Ok, rant over.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 6:20 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The infographic doesn't work for me

...but I'm happy to make an ill-informed comment about it anyway!
posted by googly at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


That is a fucking beautiful chart.
posted by zardoz at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


hover over a state to select it, then scroll up/down. works for me.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 6:25 PM on October 15, 2012


Conservative is an understatement, Southern Democrats were outright segregationists. Humphrey adopted a civil rights policy which split part of the democratic party off in the south. Later southern democrats filibustered the civil rights act.

As an aside, the chart works on iPad as well, pretty nifty.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:31 PM on October 15, 2012


That is a fucking beautiful chart.
Beautiful, perhaps, but hard to use. It does not appear possible to select a state and trace its path down the chart. You have to carefully mouse around to find it, and then it is easily lost as soon as you move your mouse again.

And it probably doesn't work at all on iOS devices.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2012


As an aside, the chart works on iPad as well, pretty nifty.
I guess I was wrong about that.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2012


At the bottom of the page: "In 1960, 1968 and 1972, some electoral votes were unpledged or allocated to a third-party candidate; for these years, the displayed electoral vote totals are less than 538."
posted by Garm at 6:39 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It isn't perfect on iOS but sites that mess with mouse hover events almost never work on iOS.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:39 PM on October 15, 2012


Hover over your state of interest and then use your mousewheel or arrow keys to scroll up and down.
posted by agentofselection at 6:46 PM on October 15, 2012


(Also, in the South, many people voted for Democrat politicians but you have to remember, back then Southern Democrat politicians were very conservative.)

A buddy of mine from Dothan, AL once explained it to me thus: "Well, Lincoln was a Republican..."
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:49 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not just Humphrey or split votes from 3rd parties. All of the Goldwater states (except Arizona) went for Carter in 1976. Ford's coalition of every western state, rural New England, the western half of the Rust Belt, Virginia, and New Jersey is pretty much incoherent if you're used to seeing electoral maps from last 3 or 4 elections.
posted by Copronymus at 6:52 PM on October 15, 2012


I'd forgotten that blue states like California and New York voted for Republicans for president not that long ago. Hard to imagine now.
posted by octothorpe at 7:01 PM on October 15, 2012


The NYT really is doing amazing visualization work. FWIW, Mike Bostock is uncoincidentally the creator of D3, the excellent javascript visualization library.
posted by feckless at 7:09 PM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thanks, Garm. Another minor gap in my education has been filled. United States presidential election, 1960 - Unpledged Democratic electors plus one faithless Oklahoma elector. What's that mean in this context? Faithless? Oh, I get it now.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 7:11 PM on October 15, 2012


It shows how the 60s was a time of transition, and how we are still living in the pattern set then. This thesis is laid out well in Nixonland. We are still living in Nixonland.
posted by stbalbach at 7:12 PM on October 15, 2012


The main link is pretty great on its own. The authors' pages are raaaaaaad!

Quasi-related, in a Guns Germs and Steel kind of way.

This post hit my sweet spot.
posted by perspicio at 7:15 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Echoing how gorgeous the chart is. I've been consistently impressed with the NYT's interactive features of late. Whatever else they get wrong, this is certainly a stellar example of a news organization using the medium of the Internet well, and more creatively than just "let's start a blog".
posted by Phire at 7:35 PM on October 15, 2012


Eisenhower Republicanism seems like such a distant fairy tale these days.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:18 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love the visualization work the NYT does, but I'm going to go against the grain here and say I've seen better from them.

The title is "Over the Decades, How States Have Shifted" but really the only thing you can EASILY do with this is look at general countrywide trends. Finding a specific state is a complicated affair, and once I do that it doesn't let me toggle the state highlight to observe how it has actually shifted over time (which is what it sounds like the title suggests I should be able to do). Yes, I know I can highlight a state and then use my scroll wheel to move down the page without losing my selection, but I only found that clunky work-around after fiddling for a few minutes. And what about mobile devices?

It's pretty, yes, but shouldn't a data visualization be more than that? I want to be compelled to sit here for longer than I should and explore the data myself (see this and this from the NYT), otherwise a static chart would do just fine.
posted by Defenestrator at 8:26 PM on October 15, 2012


Vermont starts all the way to the right voting for Eisenhower and gradually ends up all the way over to the left voting for Obama. I actually expected to see the switch show up more in 70-80s, but they must have really liked Reagan and hated Goldwater.
posted by maryr at 8:39 PM on October 15, 2012


And it probably doesn't work at all on iOS devices.

Actually, it's not too bad on my phone. At least it's easy to zoom in. Getting it to differentiate between states with few electors that are right next together is tricky, but it sounds like it's tricky on the computer, too.

I never could find Illinois, though. And Alaska was a good deal closer to the center than I expected it to be, given what I read in the paper.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:02 PM on October 15, 2012


I was hoping for a nice essay about the folly of using rivers or trees for boundary markers in the early days of the United States.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Illinois: Go to 1960 and check the center line. You'll find it there. It's tightly packed... but it's there.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 9:24 PM on October 15, 2012


Pope Guilty: "A buddy of mine from Dothan, AL once explained it to me thus: "Well, Lincoln was a Republican...""

Mmmm, Hunt's. Best chili dog anywhere.
posted by wierdo at 9:32 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a beautiful visualisation. One thing amazed me - Nixon got an amazing swing in each election. I have no idea why he seems to have been so paranoid about his opponents - he enjoyed more electoral popularity than any other President in that graph. I wasn't surprised by the flight to not-Nixon Jimmy Carter after Watergate, but I was surprised to see that Bush1 was basically elected by the ebbing tide that elected Reagan. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia; their swings in the 50s and 60s were intense. Yes, I know that Civil Rights were polarising, but do they like have only a dozen voters per state? Especially Alabama; a 14% margin for the Democrats with Kennedy in 1960, followed by a 69.5% margin for the Republicans in 1964!
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:36 PM on October 15, 2012


Especially Alabama; a 14% margin for the Democrats with Kennedy in 1960, followed by a 69.5% margin for the Republicans in 1964!

It's footnoted in the visualization, but Lyndon Johnson was not on the Alabama ballot in 1964.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:04 PM on October 15, 2012


It's making me seasick.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:26 PM on October 15, 2012


I'm uncomfortable with the idea that there are red states and blue states, or red politics and blue politics, not because these political divisions don't exist, but rather because the color coding doesn't make sense.

Really, who decided that the liberal-conservative spectrum maps to the red-blue spectrum? Really. Who decided that?

I'd like to see it coded differently, perhaps by a texture map.

The smooth States say one thing. The gritty States, with all their holes, say something else.

That's politics I can feel.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:35 PM on October 15, 2012


Vermont's transition is something else. My mother was born in the most Republican state in the country, by these metrics.
posted by Earthtopus at 12:27 AM on October 16, 2012


Want to visualize regression to the mean? Zoom the graphic down so it all fits on your screen.

Zowie.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:17 AM on October 16, 2012


Actually 1968 stats would be a bit misleading as that was a year that George Wallace was running. At least in my North Carolina area THAT is who quite a few white adults were voting for.

You're right, of course. In some ways one should ignore the '68 results because the Wallace effect simply scrambles the picture.
posted by yoink at 8:17 AM on October 16, 2012


They seem to have forgotten about Nebraska's one electoral vote for Obama in 2008.
posted by trueluk at 8:55 AM on October 16, 2012


As an aside, George Wallace was a member of the Democratic Party altho he did run as an independent for the '68 election. /trivia
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:36 PM on October 16, 2012


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