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This map makes the point that the United States is not the divided nation that pundits claim. Most states were fairly close to a 50/50 split vote wise (aka purple). Even in Utah the vote was only 3:1 Romney:Obama; they are not as different from blue states as people think.

The fact that most states are close to 50-50 means the nation as a whole is more divided, not less: there are lots of people in every state on both sides.

If people in the poorer states like Alabama voted the same way as people in richer states like Maryland, that means they have more in common. If people from a small state with low income inequality like New Hampshire are evenly split, that means whatever divides the candidates is not economic, geographic, or cultural reasons.

I agree that whatever divides the candidates doesn't correlate to any easy demographic measure. All I was saying is that "the entire country is purple" does not, IMO, show less division than "some states are red and other states are blue". It shows more division, because instead of the country being split into large, fairly homogeneous regions, the political split is present everywhere. It would be easier for us to all get along if "red staters" and "blue staters"--yes, I know that's a shallow metaphor but this is a small input box, work with me here :)--could just live in separate states and not bother each other. The fact that people with deeply held but opposite political convictions are cheek by jowl all across the country is part of what makes it so difficult to resolve disagreements.

That's not how data works.

All this purple map shows is that the division between republican and democratic voters is prevalent in the majority of the states.

It says nothing about the demographics of the voters.

We already know the demographics of people in the various states though. If people above a certain "richness" level liked one candidate over the other, then the majority in Maryland would have voted one way and Alabama the other. (Or both the same way, if the necessary level were very high or very low.) The fact that about 50% of Alabama voted each way and about 50% of Maryland voted each way means income level does not strongly change the way people voted.

This isn't about Democrats vs Republicans, because about 40% of Americans don't identify with either party. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_U.S... Party affiliation isn't nearly enough to explain how close this election was.

This isn't about Democrats vs Republicans, because about 40% of Americans don't identify with either party.

Exactly. I've heard some studies that point to a majority of young voters (18-24?) self describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. IMHO, neither of the 2 parties fit that bill right now so many people vote along with their particular social issue. A gay friend mentioned to me how hard voting was because she is fiscally conservative, but no way could she vote GOP (not that they are the picture of fiscal responsibility either at this point).

Another friend of mine described his feeling about the election as, "I hated to see Obama win, but I'm equally afraid of the crazy republican right wing. I want a party that is fiscally conservative that also believes in evolution."

It seems that with the vote always being near 50/50 that one of the parties could figure out that sweet spot and satisfy more than 50% of the populace. That would mean taking chances and really challenging the status quo, so it will likely never happen. After last night though, the GOP is at a crossroads and now is probably the best time if there ever was one to really make some changes. Very unlikely though.

But you don't know the demographics of who voted in each state. Just because a previous phone poll shows which party they admit to being privy to, doesn't mean that those were the demographics that went to the polls this week.

DC was ~1:10 Romney:Obama which is vastly different than Utah 3:1. Honestly, when you can pick the winner in 2016 without knowing either of the candidates that creates a huge divide. Because, it forces politicians to ignore those states.

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