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Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Damned Lies and Statistics | 2 comments

Map of the week – U.S. political polarization

Philip Bump over at WaPo has put together a stunning graphical illustration of how the U.S. has become increasingly politically polarized at the county level. Go stare at it for awhile and then scroll down to play with the interactives. These data help explain, to some extent, why the legislature itself has become measurably more partisan since around 1990.

PBump-Counties 

Bear in mind here that around 80% of the U.S. population is crammed into geographically small high density cities, so the bulk of what you are seeing in this map are the color changes for those living in large swaths of land with relatively low population density. There is a clever way to compensate for this problem, of course, but its sort of mindbending to look at.

If you’ve any thoughts on why the electorate itself has become increasingly polarized over time, please leave them in the comments below. Personally, I blame the media.

ETA: I’ll get back to producing my own graphs or charts next week, pinky swear.

  • Brenda Weber

    I’ll take a shot at it. My first guess is a combination of liberal flight, poor education policies and systemic poverty.

    But a closer look seems to show the polarization increased roughly around the same time the Civil Rights Movement took hold as well as during the election of our first half-black president. So I may have to adjust that guess a bit.

  • David Foxfire

    Personally, I can tell the exact date where this country became so fractured: 7 Nov 2000, the first ever statistical tie in presidential election history would’ve caused a lot of sore sentiments no matter which direction it fell, and with the possible exception of one sad day, we as a nation have never gotten back together since. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever will refer to each other as a fellow American–much less a human being–anymore.