Today at The Federalist, I wrote about the North Carolina redistricting case, Cooper v. Harris, and the Supreme Court’s flip-flopping on race-based gerrymandering.
I’ve always enjoyed maps of things like “what if the 50 states were arranged in a different way?” This 2012 map, by Neil Freeman, is one of my favorites. The author imagines what the 50 states would look like if they were reorganized the way congressional districts are, each being equal in population. It also helps that the map is beautifully drawn, the sort of thing I just enjoy looking at.
Freeman drew his map with Electoral College reform in mind. If the states were all equal-sized by population, then lefty complaints about the Senate and the Electoral College would be eliminated. After the 2012 election, however, Nate Cohn pointed out in a New Republic article that a map with the states arranged in Freeman’s new pattern would have actually given the election to Mitt Romney, despite Obama’s commanding lead in the popular vote. As an electoral reform, then, the idea only made things worse. But as a piece of art and a thought experiment, it remains a success.
I had no such lofty goals, but I did wonder what my home commonwealth of Pennsylvania would look like with 67 equal-population counties. I drew it up here. This is not something I endorse as a political matter (although Philadelphia might do better as a group of smaller governmental units) but just a bit of fun. It also gives a visual representation of where Pennsylvania’s population is concentrated in a way many other maps don’t.
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.
This year, at last, the dream of Republicans in Pennsylvania came true as our swing state finally swung. It wasn’t my dream for 2016, exactly, since I voted for Johnson, but for many who pushed back against the idea that the Commonwealth was a purely Democratic state at the Presidential level, it was gratifying. In fact, according to Nate Silver’s 538 website, Pennsylvania was the tipping point in electing Trump.
Over the weekend, I charted the precinct-level results in Philadelphia, the city Hillary thought would save the state for her. As most observers of the Philly political scene would have expected, Clinton was weakest in the Far Northeast. I was also surprised at Trump’s strength in South Philly and the river wards. Trump’s best division (we call precincts divisions here) was in South Philly, 39-14, where he tallied 70.3% of the vote (it’s the big one in the far south of the 39th ward). Clinton had three divisions in North Philly where the people chose her unanimously (29-07, 29-16, and 32-29,) which I’ve marked with asterisks on the map. There were also two ties, both in the Northeast (64-17 and 66-18).
Most of this is only of interest to my Pennsylvania readers, but I hope you all enjoy the map. You can click on it to zoom in, but the file is pretty big, so it may take a minute.