Monthly Archives: December 2007

Collapse of the Empire State

New York’s presence once loomed so large over America that it crowned itself the Empire State. Today, New York has fallen behind California and Texas in population and is in danger of dropping behind Florida. As its influence ebbs, the Empire State is losing electoral clout as an unprecedented rate.

According to Census Bureau estimates released in December, New York State has grown at such as sluggish rate relative to the rest of the nation that it is due to forfeit two congressional seats after the 2010 reapportionment. It would mark the seventh consecutive Census in which New York has given up seats.

“Reapportionment is carnage time for New York: the state lost five districts in the 1980 Census, another three in 1990 and two more in 2000,” according to the Almanac of American Politics. Almanac author Michael Barone predicted in a National Journal article in July that at least one district Upstate will be eliminated.

If Upstate looses another representative to Congress (or two for that matter), it would be consistent with an ongoing trend. Upstate is scared by ghost towns from Schenectady to Syracuse and beyond. If you ever want to see a vision of America in the 1960’s, visit Utica. It is as if everyone in that once bustling, medium-sized city lost their jobs one day and then got up and left. And its been frozen in time since. No one has invested anything.

GE employed 40,000 people in Schenectady in 1950. Today, it employs 3,000. Kodak, based in Rochester, cut 30,000 jobs in the last three years. Carrier, the crown jewel of Syracuse and the namesake of the Orangemen’s CarrierDome, shut down its air conditioning plant in 2004.

The loss of manufacturing jobs isn’t unique to Upstate New York. Cities across the Rust Belt, or what Joel Garreau calls “The Foundry” (America’s industrial region), are suffering. But Upstate is uniquely burdened with a tax system that funnels money to New York City and doesn’t circulate enough back.

Couple New York’s suppressive tax system with wintry weather, and it’s understandable why the region is experiencing sluggish to negative growth. And it’s a snowball effect: as jobs leave, people emigrate, the tax base shrinks and school systems decay. The Almanac says New York is experiencing an “unprecedented hemorrhaging of talent and productivity.”

A New York Sun article from Thursday noted that the Census Bureau estimates that New York is the eighth-slowest growing state. In fact, only two states declined in population from 2000 to 2006: New York and North Dakota, which National Geographic describes in its January 2008 issue as a prairie state “littered with dead towns.”

New York State grew 32 percent between 1940 and 1965, but only another two percent from 1965 to 1997. In the same period, California surged 74 percent and Texas bulged by 84 percent. Which brings us back to representation in Congress. Texas is slated to gain another four seats, bringing its delegation to 36. California already commands 55. Florida will have 27 seats, the same as New York.

When New York was in its heyday, Franklin D. Roosevelt would welcome throngs of guests to his estate in the Hudson River Valley. It was an age when radio reigned and the three biggest sports in America were boxing, baseball and horse racing. Florida was building its first railroad to the area that would become Miami and Henry Flagler was luring the first waves of what would become millions of New Yorkers down to Palm Beach.

Today, boxing and horse racing are afterthoughts in American sports, but their halls of fame are fittingly located in Upstate New York (along with baseball’s hall). Roosevelt’s Hyde Park mansion is a museum. Meanwhile, Florida is host to the major sports events of today such as the Daytona 500, which attracts upwards of 20 million viewers, and the Super Bowl, which is regularly held in Miami or Jacksonville.

New York will always command a special place in America’s identity, symbolized by the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, The New York Times, Broadway and the Yankees’ pin stripes. But those institutions were founded long ago. The state that once declared itself the epicenter of an Empire is no more.

Congressional Representation of the Four Largest States
Congressional Represenation of the Four Largest States

New York Congressional Districts
New York Congressional Districts

New York Times’ United States of Florida
United States of Florida


The Electoral Map Will Return on December 28


Like the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, The Electoral Map is taking some time off from politics next week to enjoy Christmas.

I’ll be on Vieques, an unspoiled and little-known island off of Puerto Rico and the southernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle.  I will be back to post on December 28 just as things are really starting to hit the fan. I’ll do my best to approve comments while I’m down there but please excuse me if your comment isn’t appearing; I promise they’ll all get up there.

Thanks for your continued interest in The Electoral Map and have a great holiday season.



Hawkeyeing the Iowa Electoral Map

The Iowa caucuses are rapidly approaching and it’s time to turn our attention to the Hawkeye State electoral map. I’m using two great features to follow where the candidates are traveling and where we can predict they’ll do well.

The first feature is Slate‘s “Map the Candidates” page, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before. It’s great because you can track where every candidate is traveling during a certain time frame. In the past week, for instance, we can see that most of the candidates are flocking on Iowa like bees on honey. Here’s a screen shot on the past seven days:

Candidates Flocking to Iowa
Candidates Flocking to Iowa

“Map the Candidates” also details which parts of the Hawkeye State each candidate is visiting. Barack Obama, for example, is making a push in Northern counties while John Edwards is focusing on the East. Hillary Clinton is hitting big metropolitan areas. In this screen shot of the last seven days, Obama is the striped avatar, Edwards is the blue star and Hillary is the “H.”

Democratic Frontrunners in Iowa
Democratic Frontrunners in Iowa

The second feature I’ve been referencing is’s “Scaling Counties in a Checkerboard State” web site, which offers a series of maps visualizing past results and the proportions of votes in each of Iowa’s counties.

According to the author of the site Jonathan Corum, the series of maps applies a proportionally-sized square to each county based on population. Polk County (home of Des Moines), for example, has the biggest square while rural counties are smaller. This helps us interpret where the voters live:

Iowa’s Counties by Population
Iowa by Population’s series of maps also includes results of the 2004 Democratic caucuses. Since we know a lot about each candidate’s platform, we can figure out a little bit about each county’s electorate based on how they voted.

Eastern Iowa, for example, which is usually the bluest part of the state, gave John Kerry wide margins. Southern Iowa and Des Moines supported John Edwards. On the following map, Kerry is gray, Edwards light red and Dean dark red.

If you’re feeling bold, cross-reference the 2004 results with the “Map the Candidates” mashup to interpret what certain campaign stops imply for each candidate.

2004 Iowa Democratic Caucuses Electoral Map
2004 Iowa Caucuses Electoral Map

Here are the 2004 Democratic results by candidate and scaled county, where the darker shade of blue represents a higher winning percentage.

2004 Iowa Electoral Maps by Scaled Counties
2004 Iowa Electoral Maps by Scaled County

If you’ve ever been in a campaign office in Iowa during caucus-time (or in any major campaign office for that matter), you’ve probably seen a wall-size map of the state tacked up in the manager’s office. I’ve noticed that some of the candidates are using maps on their web sites, and I can only imagine what they have inside their campaign offices.

Obama’s Iowa Map for Volunteers
Obama’s Iowa Map


Slate Introduces “Map the Correspondent”

Inspired by the innovative and informative “Map the Candidates,” Slate‘s chief political correspondent John Dickerson brings us “Map the Correspondent.” Dickerson submits updates to Twitter, which are then applied to Google Maps. Readers can follow Dickerson’s travels on the campaign trail:

Map the Correspondents


Catholics Could Redraw the Electoral Map in 2008

The 2008 election could be won or lost on the Catholic vote. There are nearly 70 million Catholics in the United States, according to Mark Penn‘s estimates in “Microtrends,” and most of them reside in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and the Southwest.

More importantly, they have a track record of picking the winner. “In every presidential election since 1972 the winner of the Catholic vote has won the national popular vote, something no other religious group – Jews, evangelicals, Protestants – can boast,” Tom Schaller noted in his Salon article on Monday.

Catholics have historically sided with Democrats, but George W. Bush made significant inroads in 2000. “One of the untold stories of the [2000] campaign is how the Bush forces worked subtly through little-publicized channels to win over strong, tradition-minded Catholics, obviously with some success,” Michael Barone wrote in a 2001 National Journal election postmortem.

Bush barely lost the Catholic vote in 2000, but four years later he took 52%. In 2006, when the issues shifted back from guns to butter, Democrats picked up 55% of the Catholic vote on their way to a national rout. In 2008, Catholics will be decisive but it’s uncertain which issues will motivate them.

To be clear, the Catholics are not as homogenous a voting bloc as some other religious groups (Jewish voters, for example, gave Gore nearly 80% of their vote in 2000) and different issues will motivate different kinds of Catholics.

Schaller suspects that abortion could be a key issue and major thorn in the side of Catholic Rudy Giuliani if wins the Republican nomination. But if terrorism is the issue of day, Rudy could redraw the whole map, wooing millions of Catholics.

Consider the Carmella Soprano vote. My colleague Howard Mortman at New Media Strategies wrote earlier in the year that she’s a suburban Catholic “security mother” who sided with Bush in 2004. “If she hasn’t been whacked by the time of the 2008 presidential primary, which Republican would Carmela back? An obvious first choice is Rudy Giuliani,” Mortman reasoned.

Schaller calculated that a Giuliani anti-terrorism platform tailored to Catholics could unlock the Northeast for Republicans:

“Catholics cast at least 31 percent of the vote in nine Northeastern states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Realistically, in a close election, only New Hampshire and Pennsylvania would truly be in play next fall. But both would represent GOP pickups, and Pennsylvania alone would be a crucial loss of electoral votes for Democrats.”

If the major issue “is the economy, stupid,” many Catholic voters could break a different way. Seth Gitell predicted in an October 23 column in the New York Sun that “It’s very possible that many Catholics voters will move back to the Democratic Party on economic grounds.” This could be especially true of lower middle-class Catholics voters in Rust Belt state and especially among Hispanic Catholics in the Southwest.

Gitell added that Hillary Clinton “has done well among upstate New York Catholic voters, a demographic that resembles other Rust Belt inhabitants.”

Both parties have candidates that can make a strong case in the Catholic community and both have issues that will win Catholics votes. Time will tell who is nominated and what issues prevail. But it’s certain that Catholics will be a major deciding factor in who ultimately wins the White House.

Catholic Adherents as a Percentage of Total Population

Catholic Voters

Democratic Candidates and the Electoral Map

The Dem campaigns are spending a lot of time talking about about red states, blue states and purple states. Consider these three quotes from the frontrunning campaigns:

  • Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.): “When it comes to purple states and red states, and when it comes to blue states, Barack Obama has that crossover appeal that I don’t think anybody else in the field has.” (The Hill, Dec. 12)
  • John Edwards: “I’m the one candidate on our side who’s actually won in a red state and grew up in small town rural American.” (CBS “Evening News,” Dec. 12)
  • Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.): “I think Hillary Clinton has the best chance of being electable in swing parts of the country.” (Chicago Tribune‘s “The Swamp,” Dec. 11)

When did electability make such a big comeback in the Dem primary?

A Decisive Day in Virginia History

December 11 is an important day in Virginia history.

On this day in 1862, Union forces slipped across the Rappahannock River and torched Fredericksburg. Two days later, they tried to take the heavily fortified Marye’s Heights south of the town and were mowed down in what became one of the most lopsided Confederate victories of the war.

One Union officer said that their assaults appeared to melt like snow hitting the ground (Union troops actually chanted “Fredericksburg” during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg when it was the Union who controlled the heights).

Today, the voters of Virginia’s 1st District, anchored in Fredericksburg, will elect either Republican state Rep. Rob Wittman or Democratic Iraq veteran Philip Forgit to replace the late Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R).

Throughout the district are symbols of Virginia new and old: Stratford Hall (Robert E. Lee’s birthplace) and Fort A.P. Hill (named after the Confederate general under Lee’s command), and Millennial Gov. Mark Warner’s (D) farm on the Northern Neck.

Which Virginia will show up today: Warner’s Democratic converts or the heirs of the old Democratic Party, now under the banner of the GOP, who ruled here for decades on the platform of despising Lincoln’s Republicans?

Polls indicate that it’ll probably be Wittman, but if history tells us anything it’s that this district should never be overlooked and is never easily won.

Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

Battle of Fredericksburg, December 11-15, 1862

Battle of Fredericksburg