Here’s a graphic illustration of how the presidential election turned out. These are the results by county, with color reflecting the percentage that voted Republican (red) and Democrat (blue).
Here’s what it looks like when the counties are scaled by population size; the smear of reds is greatly diminished.
It’s striking how the emptiest places in the country are enriched with fervent conservatives. People are always fretting over how conservatives are outbreeding liberals, but it seems to me that that actually works in liberals’ favor — as communities become larger and more interdependent, as people grow up aware of social support systems, as their numbers create richer opportunities for education, there’s a trend towards embracing liberal values. There are, of course, historical contingencies that can counter that pattern — Utah has been growing, but isn’t becoming more Democratic, for instance — but it’s interesting that fast-growing urban areas in even the reddest states somehow end up favoring the Democrats. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Quiverful movement, that strange idea on the religious right that women ought to bear swarms of children, was a policy that would simply breed new generations of liberals?
Of course, there is the alternative explanation: this distribution is an indirect measure of prosperity. People tend to move towards areas with more upward mobility and better economic prospects, so population is only a proxy for opportunity—and it’s broadly distributed wealth that produces more liberals. Then it would be the case that pumping out a dozen babies that you can’t afford to educate properly would still produce more minions of the Republicans…by impoverishing the region. I’m sure the religious right would find that notion reassuring, since it also seems to be one of their goals to wreck the political and economic health of the nation.
Whatever the explanation is, I want more blue in these maps. There are more election cartograms to peruse.