Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Are we a purple nation? No!

Most are familiar with the red/blue electoral maps that capture the results of our presidential "elections." The states that go republican are filled in red, and the states that go democrat are filled in blue. Largely because many of the red states are so damn big (Alaska, Texas, Montana, etc.), these red/blue maps tend to give the impression that the U.S. is a nation of red states. Hence, Bush's mandate.

Lately, there have been maps put together by other folks, showing that the U.S. is not red but purple. The logic is simple enough: take red to mean 100% republican, blue to mean 100% democrat, and use varying shades of purple to cover the middle ranges. Washington, D.C., for example would be a very bluish purple since 90% of voters went for Kerry. Texas and the bible belt would be a very reddish purple. And the states that were close (OH, FL, NM, NV, IA, ...) would all be a rather neutral shade.

But are we a purple nation? Are we indeed more united by our commonalities than we are divided by our differences, as the purple maps seem to suggest? Absolutely not. The problem with that logic is that the democrats ran a purple candidate to begin with. Despite the hype about his being the Senate's number one liberal, Senator Kerry's presidential platform was specifically tailored to the undecideds, the moderates, the independents, the soft republicans, and so on. Bush, in contrast, was redder than ketchup.

So was it a close race between red and blue, with a decidedly purple result? No. It was a close race between beet red and a pretty neutral purple, and our fellow voters chose beet red, at least the ones whose votes counted. My advice to the blues for 2008: try green?

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