Gene Expression

Where is Obama overperforming?

There has been a lot of talk of Barack Obama “expanding the map” this cycle for the Democrats. In mid-September when John McCain was at his polling-peak many were assuming that had just been a pipe-dream, and that the traditional Democratic strategy of winning big blue states was back in play. But with the Obama bounce not so fast! So where is Obama exactly expanding he map? Below is a map generated by Andrew Gelman comparing Kerry’s 2004 election results with current averaged poll numbers.

i-166b3c927faee1e353eee3f7aa047b9d-2004_2008_map.pngMore charts an maps over at Red State, Blue State.


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    October 28, 2008

    I find this very difficult to understand since it is not in red and blue… Is the guy who made this map some kind of commie or something?

  2. #2 Becca
    October 28, 2008

    I am entertained by how much pigment Massachusetts has.

  3. #3 razib
    October 28, 2008

    obviously much of this is geography. obama is overperforming in the upper midwest, while kerry boosted the dem vote in new england.

  4. #4 John Emerson
    October 29, 2008

    Something must have changed in North Dakota. Normally it’s very hard core Republican, and their black vote is close to zero. It’s next to Minnesota, but very distinctly different, especially politically.

  5. #5 John Emerson
    October 29, 2008

    What color is the median (Same as Kerry?)

  6. #6 MRW
    October 29, 2008

    I had the same question as John, so I looked at the source post. I can’t say that the value they’re plotting makes much sense to me. It’s the residuals of a fit to the current election’s poll numbers vs. the last elections numbers. Because of that, there’s no color that means “the same as Kerry”.

    McCain is doing better in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Arkansas than Bush did. He as doing as well as Bush did in Rhode Island and Tennessee. From the map key, you’d expect, then, for Mass. to be darker than Tennessee, but it’s not, because the residual was plotted rather than just a measure of the difference between 2004 and 2008.

  7. #7 Danny
    October 29, 2008

    [North Dakota] next to Minnesota, but very distinctly different, especially politically.

    If you take out Minneapolis and the Iron Range, is it really that different? Also, any idea me why Minnesota has been trending Republican?

  8. #8 John Emerson
    October 29, 2008

    Those are pretty big “excepts”!

    I (like PZ Meyers) live in the most rural, most Dakota-ish district, roughly the northern 2/3 of the western 1/3 of the state. We have a conservative Democratic Congressman and voted 56% for Bush against Kerry. There’s only one other rural district, along the Iowa border. Then there’s the Iron Range (mining, shipping, tourism, unproductive agriculture, swamp, and scrub), two very urban districts, and three suburban / exurban districts.

    Minnesota was leftist 1930-1940 and tended liberal 1940-1980. Basically it’s regressed to the mean since. The reasons for the early leftism are not directly remembered by anyone younger than 80 or 90. Suburbanites in MN are much the same as suburbanites anywhere.

    Probably the whole state is further left than demographically-equivalent places elsewhere, but not by a lot. (I did do a quick check, and found that something like 75% of the Texas districts supported Bush more strongly than the most conservative Minnesota district.)

    On the map: your eyes deceive you on shading and colors, so the old-fashioned stippling and striping and polka-dotting are actually more useful.

    Minnesota has been grouped with wisconsin, Oregon and a few others as urban/rural states with very conservative conservatives and very liberal liberals. The net moderation is deceptive.

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