With the presidential election a week behind us, poll watchers have been busy slicing and dicing voter information and election results. Of particular interest to many is an analysis that shows although President Barack Obama won key states and the electoral college vote, the majority of the nation’s counties were in favor of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
State and County Election Maps Tell Different Stories
At the center of some controversy are maps showing county by county voting patterns. While the final state election map shows Obama carrying more than half the states, a county by county analysis shows most of the nation voted ‘red’ for Romney.
The county by county maps can appear startling at first glance, but county results can be deceiving. While more counties may have voted for Romney, the overall vote in a particular state could still be in favor of Obama. This is particularly true in states which are largely rural with the majority of their population centered in just a few counties.
For example, the county by county map of Michigan shows the vast majority of the state voted for Romney. However, Michigan’s population is concentrated in the greater metro Detroit area where voters are overwhelmingly Democratic. Voters in densely populated Wayne County and the surrounding counties offset Romney supporters from rural counties and helped Obama win 54 percent of Michigan’s popular vote.
Blended Map of Election Shows More Complete Picture
A flaw of many county-by-county maps is their tendency to designate counties as red or blue only. However, it is rare that counties vote entirely for one candidate. Instead, most counties have split votes.
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