Monday, November 09, 2020

The Purple States of America

The creators of the Purple States of America interactive map believe that traditional election maps paint a distorted picture of a polarized America. These traditional maps show the country divided into red and blue states. However there are no states in the USA where everybody votes Democrat or Republican. All states have both Democratic and Republican voters.

The Purple States of America map is an attempt to create a less polarized map of the USA. It uses proportional shades of purple to show that the United States is less polarized than the perception given by more traditional election maps. On this map states with more Democratic voters have bluer shades of purple, and states where more people voted Republican have redder shades of purple.

In its very limited purpose of showing a less polarized country then the Purple States of America map is very successful. Unfortunately however the main purpose of elections maps (in a winner takes all electoral system) is to show the winners in each electoral area.If you really want to fix the perception of polarization in the United States you don't need purple maps - you need Proportional Representation

The real problem with many U.S. election maps has been that traditionally they tend to overstate the popularity of the party which wins the huge rural counties with low population densities (Republican), and under-represent the popularity of the party which wins the smaller urban areas with bigger populations (Democrats). However this problem has been addressed during this election through the widespread use of cartograms and proportional symbols. Some examples of these different types of election maps can be seen in The New York Times's Presidential Election Results 2020, the Washington Post's Election 2020 Live Results and in Bloomberg's 2020 Presidential Election Results.

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