Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The New Republic's Nate Cohn: Blue Counties Versus Red Counties and the Value of Cartograms That Account For Population Proportionality

Cartogram of the 2012 Electoral Vote

Obama: 332 Electoral Votes
Romney: 206 Electoral Votes

Source: Wikipedia
In terms of interpreting election results, county-by-county maps can be rather deceptive, particularly when considering the factor of high population densities in urban and metropolitan areas.

With conventional national or state maps designating counties, rural counties--if shaded a color distinct from urban and suburban counties--might seem to be the dominant area.

If the issue is land area, that would be correct, but in terms of population proportionality, conventional county-by-county maps for election results can be counterproductive for communicating a larger truth.

In short, election results communicated graphically on conventional county-by-county maps tend to understate the importance of urban and metropolitan areas.

Nate Cohn addresses this matter in an article for The New Republic. In doing so, he praises the value of cartograms for illustrating the proportional value of highly populated areas.

Nate Cohn's article at The New Republic is linked below.

Nate Cohn: Red Counties versus Blue Counties, in Proportion to Population

"I wish infographic departments would give readers the power to flip between a traditional county map and a cartogram. Otherwise, many or maybe even most readers will wrongly assume that the most common color on the map is most representative of the population, while largely ignoring the metropolitan communities that dominate the country."

---Nate Cohn, The New Republic

2012 Presidential Election, County-by-County Winners

Counties won by Obama in Blue
Counties won by Romney in Red

Source: Wikipedia

2012 Presidential Election, County-by-County Results
Cartogram Reflects Size of County Population and Margin of Victory

Counties won by Obama in Blue
Counties won by Romney in Red

Author: Mark E.J. Newman, Cartogram posted at Wikipedia

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