Lest we continue to get carried away over the notion of red states and blue states, I have made this map of the results of the election that present the results in less of a simplified manner.
This map was created in Illustrator. The color of the states was determined by the final tally of their votes for President Bush and Senator Kerry. For instance, in the case of Utah, the reddest of the red states, the state is colored 71% red and 26% blue following the way the citizens of Utah voted on election day. Conversely, Washington D.C., where Senator Kerry won his most lopsided victory of the electoral system, is colored 90% blue and 9% red, reflecting the choices of the voters in our nation’s capital.
This map is useful in that it reminds us that the splitting of the nation into two camps of red and blue is useful only in determining who was awarded electoral votes, and is not an indication of the electorate as a whole. The country is purple, but it is definitely shaded a little red. Senator Kerry’s outright victory in Washington D.C. was an aberration on election day, owing to the fact that the District is solely a city, and does not represent a wide range of political views. Indeed, of the nineteen states Kerry won (including washington D.C.) his tally passed 55% in only six, a rate slightly less than one-third. President Bush, however, won twenty-one states where his tally surpassed 55%, or around two-thirds. In those states, Kerry was soundly defeated. Of course, the Electoral College made sure this did not matter. When one looks at the numbers, it is possible to picture red states and blue states, but you would also have to picture the blue states as being not nearly as blue as the red states are red.
The Democrats would do well to emphasize that the red state blue state idea is truly a myth. Once the electoral votes are counted, red and blue state ideology must be dismissed quickly, lest it become ever more entrenched in the mind of the electorate, falsely emboldening some, and mistakenly alienating others. Coloring a state one way or the other also makes it seem as if it belongs to one party or the other carte blanche. I’m sure that 49% of the electorate in Ohio is not yet ready to give up that state as lost to the Republican Party, as is 47% of the electorate in Florida, 49% of the electorate in Iowa, and so on and so forth. In California, our most populous state and a true den of liberal sin, the 44% percent of voters who cast their ballots for the president would ask you to hold on before you call their state strictly blue. Now that we have established the country as once again containing a diverse electorate, it is time to recognize that there are still a massive amount of votes out there for the midterms of 2006 that can swayed either way. Frame the issues correctly, shift the Democratic brand from one of nuanced losing to one of responsible, strong victory, and the Republican juggernaut can be slowed, its course reversed.