gwalla (gwalla) wrote,
gwalla
gwalla

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Fun with cartography

Just about everybody's seen the maps with "red states" and "blue states" (showing which voted for Bush and which for Kerry). And I bet most have seen the "purple states" map (showing proportions of Bush votes to Kerry votes) and the red and blue counties map.

The problem with all of those maps is that most people's initial impression is based on the proportions of red and blue areas, but territory has almost no correlation to either population size or number of electors—see How To Lie With Statistics for more on how that sort of thing is frequently abused. So the huge areas of red or reddish-purple are very misleading (as are the areas of blue dominance), which the Bush administration is already using to claim that he has a broad mandate. It's more accurate, more instructive, and just plain more interesting to look at voting maps with areas adjusted for population or number of electors. These cartograms paint a less arbitrary picture of the current American political reality.

Getting off the subject of politics, but sticking with the theme of maps, here are a couple of links that might give your geographical sense a kick in the seat of the pants. The Peters Projection Map shows the true surface area of land masses, unlike the more familiar Mercator projection, and the results can be a little surprising, especially to Americans. And the land of Oz gets its day in the sun in these "upside-down" maps.
Tags: links, politics
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