Election 2012: Red, blight, and blue

Ah yes, it’s a presidential election year. The time when blue and red become more than the colors that they are – they become symbols of political affiliation, financial ideologies and moral values.

While the topic may bore some (or many), the historical mapping of the electoral votes is quite curious and interesting. And, I’m a sucker for maps of any kind, and this great interactive map provides a lot of information.

These maps show that the extreme state swings over the years from blue to red – and back, or the nearly complete red or blue maps of several past years is nothing new: The people, it seems, have always been fickle. Flipping through these election maps provides great insight into where the US was at a certain point in history, and what issues preoccupied our country at those times.

Take a look at some of the maps that piqued my interest.

> 1789: First US Presidential Election

Big issue: US Constitution Ratification

With one of his two votes, each elector selected George Washington (electors cast two each back then), making him the unanimous choice for President. Second-place John Adams was effectively named Vice President.

North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified the Constitution as yet. New York was in the midst of a statewide dispute. These three states did not participate in that election.

electoral votes, presidential election 2012, lopsided races, landslide races, read and blue states

> 1932 / 1936 / 1940: Depression era leading up to WWII

Big issues: 1932 / 1936, The Great Depression and Prohibition (and repeal of) / 1940, US Neutrality and World War II

In 1932, the Great Depression ruined the promises of incumbent President Herbert Hoover to bring in a new era of prosperity. Like 2012, the economy loomed large on the the minds of the voters.

If the people were looking for a savior from the long depression and impending war, they seemed to find one in Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) who was elected to an unprecedented four terms. By 1936, with his New Deal policies of Social Security and unemployment benefits enacted, FDR’s brand was soaring. He won huge – with 60.8% of the popular vote. It was the greatest electoral landslide since the current two-party system had been established in the 1850s – carrying all but 8 electoral votes – making that election the most lopsided in US history to date.

The 1940 election was the only occasion in American history in which a candidate was elected to a third (and in 1944, a fourth) term as president. The 22nd Amendment limited future presidents to two terms.

electoral votes, presidential election 2012, lopsided races, landslide races, read and blue states

> 1968 / 1972: The turbulent late 60s and transitional 70s

Big issues: 1968, Vietnam War, Civil Rights / 1972, Vietnam War, International Relations, Watergate

The 1968 election was held against a stormy backdrop that included the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. – sparking race riots across the nation, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and violent confrontations between police and anti-war protesters. Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon ran with the promise of restoring law and order.

Nixon easily beat Democratic nominee Hubert H. Humphrey. This election also featured a strong third-party showing in the South by former Alabama Governor George Wallace. It was the last time a third-party candidate won an entire state’s electoral votes (in yellow on left map).

In 1972, emphasizing a good economy and his successes in foreign affairs, Nixon won in a landslide with over 60% of the popular vote. He received nearly 18 million more popular votes than his opponent, George McGovern. It was the widest margin in any US presidential election. McGovern won only the electoral votes of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

electoral votes, presidential election 2012, lopsided races, landslide races, read and blue states

> 1980 / 1984: Leaving the low economic growth-high inflation 70s

Big issues: 1980, Iran Hostage Crisis, USSR invasion of Afghanistan, Unemployment / 1984, Recession and Recovery, Defense Spending

Coming out of a decade of low-to-no economic growth, soaring high inflation, and an energy crisis, into a prolonged hostage crisis in Iran, rampant unemployment and a countrywide malaise, the 1980 election boasted a landslide victory for former California Governor Ronald Reagan over incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

Carter was perceived as inept – a non-leader. With the people watching American flags being burned in effigy, they wanted a formidable presence in the White House. Reagan promised sweeping political and economic initiatives. He got the part.

In 1980, Reagan received the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a nonincumbent presidential candidate. In 1984, hammering Walter Mondale, Reagan carried 49 of the 50 states. He became only the second presidential candidate to achieve that after Richard Nixon’s 1972 victory. Reagan received 525 electoral votes, a record that stands to this day.

electoral votes, presidential election 2012, lopsided races, landslide races, read and blue states

> 2012: Sloshing through a stagnant economy and a slow recovery

Big issues: Economy, Unemployment, Health Care, National Debt

Who will win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to become the grand poobah for the next four years? Stats look neck-in-neck right now, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Which slogan will better whip its party into a voting frenzy, and carry a host of independents with it?

Team Obama’s “Forward?” Or Team Romney’s “For a Stronger Middle Class?” Both of those tags may have evolved or been discarded. Things change quickly.

All will be revealed on Tuesday, 6 november 2012.

(As of this posting, the current projected electoral votes break down like this.)

electoral votes, presidential election 2012, lopsided races, landslide races, read and blue states

Map captures: © 2004-2012 270towin.com

One Response to “Election 2012: Red, blight, and blue”

  1. lg Says:

    Very interesting post. In some things, politically, we’ve come a long way; in others, well, not so much. It is a long way, though, from the early red state/blue state postings on the erasable white board with magic markers. These interactive maps provide a wealth of history and information.

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