Blue Nation

Ever since 2000, American progressives have been subjected to a steady stream of red-blue electoral maps. There are many problems with such maps, but what always irritated me the most about those maps were how they over-emphasized large, thinly populated expanses of land. New York City has more people than Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and the Dakotas combined, but on the red-blue electoral map of national counties is shows up as a tiny, dark blue speck compared to a sea of deep red. It was the sort of visual aide that any feudal lord would have loved, since it emphasized land instead of people.

However, the situation has now changed. The new Survey USA 50-state Bush approval rating shows the depth of Bush's troubles. In forty-seven states, Bush has a negative approval rating. In seventeen states, Bush's disapproval rating doubles his approval rating. In fifteen states, his disapproval rating is lower than any disapproval rating ever achieved my Nixon nationally. In eight states, his net disapproval is lower than anything Nixon ever achieved nationally. In Missouri, Bush is at 29-68. Missouri.

Given this situation, I thought I would take the opportunity to turn the tables on Republicans and show the current county-by-county and state-by-state electoral maps. Using the Survey USA numbers and information form Dave Leip's excellent election map resource, I have been able to create solid estimates of the current red-blue geography:

County-by-county


State-by-state


And oh yeah, Dems lead the 2008 generic ballot by 19 points, and America thinks Bill Clinton was better than Bush at everything, and by huge margins. It is a blue nation. I'd love to see these map on television and in newspapers for a little.

Tags: 2004 general, 2008 general, Bush, geography, polls (all tags)

Comments

53 Comments

Bush disapproval does not mean a Blue Nation

Keep in mind that some people disapprove of Bush because he isn't conservative enough.

The facists are angry at him.

by wayward 2006-05-15 04:33PM | 0 recs
Not Many
Among Republicans, Bush approval still hovers around 70%. Among consevative REpublicans, it still hovers close to 80%. Almost all of Bush's disapproval comes form Dems and Inds, form libs and mods.
by Chris Bowers 2006-05-15 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Not Many

I think it was the loss of many hardline conservatives since January that dropped his Republican approval 15-20 points and his overall approval from the upper 30s to the lower 30s.

by asearchforreason 2006-05-15 05:23PM | 0 recs
Thanks Mr. Bowers

I have been screaming that we can win our Congressional race, and the numbers are there.

These maps do not hurt my argument at all, they support our poll numbers, 80% of Independents are voting Democratic this fall.

Barry Welsh Indiana 6th District Democratic Party Congressional Candidate

by Congressional Candidate Barry Welsh 2006-05-15 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks Mr. Bowers
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by chjort 2006-12-18 01:59AM | 0 recs
by chjort 2006-12-21 07:51AM | 0 recs
Size matters

Of course those maps overstate the Red due to population density.

by ATL Dem 2006-05-15 05:01PM | 0 recs
by falseintellect 2006-05-15 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Size matters

Very cool, thanks.

by ATL Dem 2006-05-15 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Size matters

We did some density-equal maps of the 2004 election by precinct in Pennsylvania using the same algorithm as in that link:

http://www.politicalintel.com/images/Ker ryPcnt_w_cartogram.jpg
http://www.politicalintel.com

Mike

by MikeConlow 2006-05-15 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation
People always do like the "generic Democrat" better then the Republican, at least they did in 2004.
Then we go and nominate a two-bit, waffling, cardboard candidate...and lose.
If we can't convince the party to change its ways in 2008, we will lose, no matter how well the "generic Democrat" is doing.
by DFLer22 2006-05-15 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

It's a sad state of affairs when "generic Democrat" beats "actual Democrat" in nearly every instance.

by schroeder 2006-05-16 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Great post.  I wonder what his latest strongly disapprove number is?  Those are the numbers who aren't susceptible to charades like tonight's glorified campaign commercial "speech."

The strongly disapprove folks are gone forever.  Once it hits sixty I think he never again hits 40 or even 35 percent approval.

by jgarcia 2006-05-15 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

i like that map, maybe we'll see it on network tv in a few novembers.

by Max Friedman 2006-05-15 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation
A beautiful sight
We're happy tonight
Walkin' in a blue blue wonderland ...
by Oregonian 2006-05-15 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

regarding the 19% democratic advantage in a generic ballot , i would suggest a visit to the betting website tradesports.com .....the race is a toss-up there with the dems holding only a narrow lead......the site does not do well in predicting american idol outcomes but similiar sites did a fine job predicting outcome of last presidential race.......so take your time in booking your reservations to the 2009 inaugaration.....jsquaredone

by jsquaredone 2006-05-15 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

There is no way that Lafayette Parish in south central Louisiana is blue. Believe me, I dearly wish that it were, but that's not what i see on the ground. The wingers here may no be all that happy with Bush right now, but they are not ready to embrace liberal ideology.

by Viguerie 2006-05-15 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Nice maps, but Montana is still better than NYC. Oh yeah, and nice and Democratic too...

Let's hope the DLC asshole adulterer doesn't win the primary -- Montana wants to go populist blue.

by Bob Brigham 2006-05-15 06:30PM | 0 recs
What is the County-by-County Data?

just curious.

by steveolson 2006-05-15 06:44PM | 0 recs
I was thinking that very thing

If there's no such thing as a poll for each CD, how on earth can there be up to date numbers for each county?

Color me suspicious.

by skeptic06 2006-05-16 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I was thinking that very thing

Chris said "I have been able to create solid estimates..." which I take to mean that he extrapolated based on each county's 2004 percentages and applying the percentage amount each state has shifted from its 2004 vote to its current approval rating. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, Chris.)

As someone else pointed out downthread, getting an approval number for each county would be a near-impossible task, since there are more than 3000 of them to be sampled, and the vast majority of them are small enough that you'll run into sample size problems.

by Crazy Vaclav 2006-05-16 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I was thinking that very thing

Both of your points make sense.

My immediate skepticism came from looking at the county map and seeing whole states without a single red county.

My geography isn't hot enough to be able to trace the state lines in my mind's eye terribly accurately (a 100KB JPEG would be nice) but New England looks solid blue, as does WI, MN, IA, CA, almost all of FL and NY is blue, etc, etc.

The words too blue to be true sprang to mind.

(Seeing is most assuredly not believing. But - let's say I'm agnostic for the moment!)

by skeptic06 2006-05-16 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: I was thinking that very thing

Actually, I don't think that's exactly Chris's method. I tried it out on the state of Washington and found that, using what I described, most of eastern Washington should still be red (although just barely).

Even allowing for a 13.6% statewide shift (Bush got 45.6% of the state vote in 2004, now he's at 32%) (and that's based on the assumption that of that 13.6% of voters, everyone who voted for Bush now would instead have voted for Kerry) (and it's also based on the assumption that the same percentage shift would apply in the wingnut rural counties as in, say, the moderate suburbs), that's still not enough to flip any county where Bush won more than 63.6% of the vote in 2004, and that leaves 10 (not 2) counties in eastern Washington red. (Granted, no one lives in those counties, but they still affect the way the map looks.) So whatever Chris is doing, it's even more optimistic than that.

by Crazy Vaclav 2006-05-16 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Be careful, Kerry was up and so was Michael Dukakis and once the GOP had their convention the GOP got ahead.  When the out party is out of power and they go first, they always have to come from behind to get the presidency, because the in party always have the advantage of going last.  So, once the debates start, we have to come from behind.

by mleflo2 2006-05-15 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I say screw that next time; hold the convention on Labor Day weekend and let the GOP scream. There's no law about it, afaik. And the GOP screwed over the "gentlemen's agreement" last time with their later-than-late convention, so ...

What's the drawback here?

by BriVT 2006-05-16 06:52AM | 0 recs
origins of red/blue

I wrote a piece almost two years ago that got to the origins of this binary red/blue thing --

It all started on Oct. 22, 2000 on NBC's now-defunct show "Sunday Today," when co-host Jodi Applegate said to her colleague Tim Russert:

   "Let's take a look at the electoral map, which, ultimately, I guess, is more important than the popular vote. And it's incredibly evenly split. You see the states favoring Bush are in red, the states for Gore are in blue. There are fewer of them, but they tend to be the more populous states."

This is the first reference to what has now become the most popular and pervasive political frame of analysis in national politics. It caught on fast. Three days later, on MSNBC's Equal Time, Oliver North (of Iran-Contra fame) pulled out his own red/blue map to prove to former Clinton aide Paul Begala, that Ralph Nader posed a real threat to Al Gore:

   North: "Let me just look at the map of what your guy's real problem is. If you look at this map, this electoral scoreboard if you will, you've got in red the states that are going to go for Governor George W. Bush. You've got in blue the states that are going for your pal Al.

   "But those states that are showing white in that map are the states that are the tossups, if you will, the battleground states.... The bad news is that Ralph Nader - and Nader's Raiders - in the Green Party are pulling big votes from your buddy Al...."

Ollie was right about the bad news, but setting that aside, the terms he uses - electoral scoreboard, battleground states, red, blue - are now mainstays of our contemporary political vocabulary.

by janfrel 2006-05-15 07:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I wouldn't trust the Missouri numbers just yet.  The Show Me State went from 36-61 to 29-68 in one month.

by KTinOhio 2006-05-15 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

MO, OH, and IA are three very wierd states.  Especially the first two.  OH is so screwed up I hope the Dems have a comfortable lead going into November of 2008 so they don't even have to campaign there.

Back when I was twenty and a newbie to politics several national people told me about the idiosyncracies of those states, esp. Ohio.  Funny.

by jgarcia 2006-05-15 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Ohio's numbers have been pretty consistent.  Missouri's took a sudden jump.

by KTinOhio 2006-05-15 10:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

You live there, I am assuming, so is Blackwell going to be competitive with Strickland, in your opinion?

by jgarcia 2006-05-16 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Honestly, I see Strickland winning by at least 10%.  Blackwell will do well among the wealthy and the extreme Religious Right, and may even grab off a few more black votes than would a white Republican with similar ideology.  But please note that I don't see Blackwell winning anything close to a majority of the black vote; too many people remember standing in the rain waiting to vote on November 2, 2004.

Strickland, for his part, will not only do very well among traditional Democratic constituencies, but should also do well among white rural voters.  His rural roots and religious background - Strickland is an ordained Methodist minister - will play well in "red state" Ohio.

by KTinOhio 2006-05-17 07:44PM | 0 recs
3D maps with population represented by height

I like these 3-D maps that represent each county's population by height.  This one puts the Bush and Kerry counties together in one map, and you can see the contrast: red covers a lot of ground but stays low, blue is limited to small areas but towers way above the red field.

These maps still distort, because counties of different size have bars with cross sections proportional to their land area, so the same county would appear to have a different volume depending on its land area, even if it had the same height.  Height is the variable they're actually using, but when we look at 3-D shapes, volume is what we intuitively see.

Still, the distortion is much lass than the usual red-blue maps, and the advantage is that unlike with cartograms, these maps visually demonstrate the contrast between sparsely populated red and densely populated blue in a way that gets through intuitively.

by cos 2006-05-15 10:39PM | 0 recs
Only 3 Read States Left?

There won't be any when people in UT, WY, and ID get around to figuring out that Bush suspects them of being terrorists and is gathering phone records on them.

by Sitkah 2006-05-15 10:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I captured some maps prepared after the 2004 election that were colored to reflect mixtures of voters (shades of purple) or skewed to reflect population.  And there are some funny ones.
http://makethemaccountable.com/misc/Maps .htm

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

by Caro 2006-05-16 02:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I used some of those same maps plus some others in a diary over at DailyKos:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/6 /5/82153/98301

Check it out if you have a chance

by BentLiberal 2006-06-07 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I don't know.  If the county maps are correct, wouldn't Idaho be blue and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska be red in the state maps?  

Every county in Idaho is showing blue except for a few sparsely populated ones in the southeast corner of the state, but the state as a whole is red...I'd double check the numbers for those four states.

That county in southwestern Nevada that is showing red, if I recall is the county with Tonopah in it and is a swing county that often goes Dem.  Somehow I can't see them being deep red right now either.

Are the county maps accurate or just guesstimates?

by ACSR 2006-05-16 03:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I was wondering that too... they can't be actual bush approve/disapprove (you would need random samples of 400-600 in every county in the country).

luv the map though... :)

by steveolson 2006-05-16 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Polls at this point of an election year are not what matters.Its votes on election day,lets hope that Dumbya's numbers are still in the toilet in November.

by Litvak36 2006-05-16 03:51AM | 0 recs
Vindicates Howard Dean Strategy

The county by county map vindicates the longterm growth approach taken by Howard Dean to build the Democratic infrastructure for a fifty state battle in the future.

Bush approval is NOT going to get much better in the next two years--- particularly after the Plame trials next year and the sight of Fitzgerald probing Cheney under oath.

by cybersophist 2006-05-16 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Could you post the link to the county-by-county data? I'd like to do the purple-shaded cartogram of the county-by-county map...

by catfishncod 2006-05-16 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

White Voters in a Blue Nation:

I've been taking a look at the May results from Survey USA on Bush's approval ratings.

I thought it would be fascinating to look at how 'white' voters feel about the president, after all they are his base - he never bothers about black voters or hispanics.

And here are the states where he gets a positive approval rating from white voters:

Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Texas.

These nine states are the only ones where white voters give Bush a positive approval rating.

The states fall into two groups - the deep south and cowboy land.

I have no real comment to make, the results speak for themselves and paint a deeply disturbing picture for Bush, his Republican friends and their scare tactics.

Details:

http://www.surveyusa.com/...

Malcolm from over the Pond

by malc19ken 2006-05-16 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: No cowboys

This list is former Confederate states --
very much including Texas -- and the two
most-Mormon states. So cut the cowboys
a break.

Dunno about Wyoming, maybe it goes for
Big Oil & Gas, i.e. Bush & Cheney.

But West Texas, where W. grew up, is not
so much cowboy country as it is dryland
Dixie with oilfields. Much cotton farming
near the border with New Mexico, and even
across it BTW. Hmmmn. Cotton farmers?
So maybe their roots go back to apple
orchards in Yankeeland? No.

by Woody 2006-06-05 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Texas????

It truly boggles the mind. This is just anecdotal, but I spent a week in one of those still red spots in northern Florida during the Christmas vacation. The folks I ran into were all talking about how much they hated Bush.

by misscee 2006-05-16 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I wonder how this would look if the map was based on approval ratings for Congress? I.e., black if approval rating over (50%? 40%?), white otherwise.

by Leisureguy 2006-05-16 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Mendoza Line

Below 50% in Nebraska is Bush's Mendoza Line.

phat

by phatass 2006-05-16 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

I prefer the "BUSH APPROVAL MAP" located at http://www.radicalruss.net/bushmap-anima ted.html

The April Bush approval Map is located at http://www.radicalruss.net/bushmap-20060 4.html.

Check them out.  They will REALLY make you feel optimistic.  

(This being said, I am really worried about the Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia e-voting machines that we will all vote on in November.  This may all be a wasted exercize if the e-voting machines work as the GOP intends.)

Zel

by zelduh 2006-05-16 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation and Nausea

There are two things that continue to make me sick to my stomach about all this. They are that while we are rejoicing in the appropriately low poll ratings for the Abomination, and appropriately high ratings for the generic Dem, we are neglecting two very important points: 1. the Abomination is not running, and 2. polls still show that when asked if they would vote to reelect their Congressman or Senators the majority say yes. Since the majority of incumbent Congressman and Senators are Republicans, the people are actually stating that they want Republicans to maintain control. (I will now vomit).

by anijoni 2006-05-16 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Greetings from Idaho. Please don't kill me! Even here, only a bare majority still approve of the chimp.

That said, I am deeply suspicious about the county map that shows many Idaho counties are now blue. Of our 44 counties, I'd guess perhaps six have a chance of scoring Dem majority votes this fall. It helps that these include some of the more populous counties, but still ...

We do have a great Congressional race going on for the ID-1 open seat. Next week, we'll learn the winner of the six-way GOP primary. The candidates range from the Club for Growth-backed Bill Sali (Alan Keyes is coming to do a final rally for him this weekend) to anti-immigration firebrand Robert Vasquez. The most moderate of the bunch, Sheila Sorensen, would still be a rubber stamp for Bush. So it's looking better all the time for Dem candidate Larry Grant, a former business exec who helped build Idaho's largest private company, chip maker Micron.

I'm managing Larry's blog: Check us out at http://www.grassrootsforgrant.com.

by Julie Fanselow 2006-05-17 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

Hey, cool article. I wrote a quick blog about it on my site, where I talk about why this isn't actually  reason for Dems to jump for joy. Would appreciate your comments.. www.themodernromantic.com

by japhy79 2006-05-18 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation - The Politics of Division

Clearly mapping voting statistics is necessary for plotting electoral strategies; and in that context these maps are great tools, particularly when we look at maps representing population rather than acreage (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/elec tion/).

However when "Thinking Blue" becomes the rhetoric beyond voting statistics, I question the value of this Blue strategy. The rhetoric of the opposition (see Greenwald Escalating the Rhetoric) casts a drama of traitors, un-American, editionist creeps even pro-terrorists. Such language is clearly divisive, hostile and in search of an enemy.

Feeling Blue is just as divisive. Embracing and wearing an identity of "Buying Blue" "Acting Blue"  "Being Blue," is divisive as well.

Meaning that the rhetoric of embracing blue is creates an enemy; though self-identifying rather than identifying other. But in creating an "Us", we must therefore create a "Them." Is that where we want to live?

What would the purple strategy look like?

What would rhetoric of finding shared values look like?

Let's look into it.

by Waxwing 2006-05-19 03:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation
Couldn't agree with Waxwing more.  Dr Dean was right, too - those guys in the pickups with the gun racks and the rebel-flag bumper-stickers SHOULD be voting for us.  Those Democratic "leaders" that want to write off all those people who should be on our side -- but have written US off, because we should be on their side, and have not been -- are the ones responsible for the long trail of losses that we've suffered.  Time for those to come to an end.  
There's too much that normal Americans need from their government that neither party has been giving them for too long.  If we lose the opportunities that this administration have given us, then we really deserve to lose.
by smartalek 2006-05-22 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Blue Nation

It be bluer if you used a cartogram.

by roseba 2006-07-11 11:40AM | 0 recs
by 3gmobile 2008-02-26 05:00AM | 0 recs

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