Philadelphia Votes, Part 2


After posting that map of Philadelphia’s presidential votes the other day, I wanted to see how much had changed since 2012. So I came up with this:


You’re still looking at a vast sea of blue, but the differences jump out at you. Clinton and Obama both won the city easily, but Obama won it much more thoroughly. Trump won wide swathes of the 45th ward where Obama had carried every single division four years earlier. Trump’s victories in the Northeast were also much deeper and widespread. Even in the dark blue areas of North and West Philly, we can see that Obama was the stronger candidate. Where Clinton had three divisions with 100% of the votes for her, Obama had twenty-seven. The pattern held throughout the area. Clinton didn’t lose much of Obama’s totals, just a handful of votes in each division. But it was enough.

Diverging Dominions


If you look at election maps as much as I do, you may have noticed that West Virginia, once among the most Democratic states in the Union, has trended Republican, while more Republican Virginia has been going the opposite way. What’s amazed me, though, is how rapid the change has been.

I’ve written before about the deepening of Republican control of Appalachia (see these two blog posts about Kentucky,) and the same pattern holds true in West Virginia. It has also been true in the mountainous regions of Virginia, but the simultaneous trend toward the Democrats in suburban Washington D.C. has been even more powerful. Take a look at this chart:



What that chart represents is how much the state’s presidential vote diverged from the national totals. In 2000, Virginia was 8.5% more Republican than the country, and West Virginia was 6.8% more. Pretty similar, and George W. Bush carried both states. He won both in 2004, too, but they switched places. This time, Virginia was closer to the national average, at +5.7% Republican, and West Virginia was a deeper red at +10.4.

Barack Obama’s election exacerbated the trend, just as it did in Kentucky. In 2008, Virginia was 0.9% more Republican than the national average–close enough for Obama to win the state. John McCain carried West Virginia, which was now +20.4% Republican. In 2012, the states divided the same way, only more so. Virginia was now 0.02% more Democratic than the nation, an almost exact bellwether. West Virginia was one of the best states for Mitt Romney at +30.6% Republican. A state Al Gore was shocked to lose in 2000 was, by 2012, not even worth campaigning in for his fellow Democrat.

The Republican margin of victory in West Virginia is so extreme that, if it were reunited with the much larger mother state of Virginia, the result would have been a narrow Romney victory (the combined state would be +4.5% Republican.) That’s not enough to change Obama’s electoral vote victory, but it is notable, in that West Virginia is usually so small compared to Virginia that combining the two means the smaller state disappears within the larger’s totals. That’s not particularly relevant, since no one is proposing to undo West Virginia’s 1863 separation from the Old Dominion, but it’s worth noting that the two states haven’t been this politically divergent since they separated.

Tubman Triumphant


Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced that, among other changes, Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill.

I support this. Tubman was a great figure in American history who worked to advance the cause of human liberty. I’ve been pleased to see that many people I respect on the Right have also praised the change. And, you know, we used to change the people on bills all the time. Hamilton was on it once, as was a more obscure Treasury Secretary, Daniel Manning. So, yes, let’s shake things up.

Even though I’ve never been especially a Jackson fan, I feel like he’s getting slammed a little too much these days. I mean, he was a proponent of slavery and Indian removal, so those are major strikes against him, but he was also the first president to suggest that poor and landless people (if they were white and male) deserved an equal say in this country’s governance as the rich and landed. Jackson and his followers expanded full participation in the republic to a lot of people in a fairly short time, and in a way no other nation was really doing.

That didn’t amount to much if you were one of his slaves or one of the Indians he forced to walk a thousand miles away from their homes (and possibly die on the way,) but it meant something positive to a great many people, the sort of folk who had no voice in any other country at the time. His monetary policy was kind of bizarre, but he did whip the redcoats at New Orleans, so that’s something.

So, let’s be glad to see him go, but not Vox-ify the nuanced character that founded the Democratic Party and did some good along with all the bad.