Category Archives: States

Georgia Wants to Redraw Border with Tennessee

It’s always been about “states’ rights” in the South. This time, Georgia state legislators say they have the right to water from the Tennessee River, citing a faulty 1818 survey that placed the Georgia-Tennessee border over a mile south of where it should be.

The border should have been set at the 35th parallel, but according to reports by the AP, surveyors sent to the piedmont from Washington either used antiquated equipment or were scared off by an Indian party. Either way, the border was set about a mile off its mark.

Georgia state Sen. David Shafer (R) says “It’s never too late to right a wrong,” and is eyeing the River as Atlanta searches for ways to quench its thirst during the unprecedented drought that has gripped the Southeast in the last year.

On November 1, 2007, the White House brokered a deal between Georgia, Alabama and Florida over rights to water from the Chattahoochee River (I noted at the time that it was interesting to see Washington stepping in to assist Southern governors afflicted by an act of God. On the same day in 1861, another act of God — a late-season hurricane — battered Union ships off the Georgia coast and saved the Southern governors who were rebelling from Washington).

The Georgia-Tennesee line isn’t the only state border that has been disputed recently. Developers in New Jersey who were trying to build a natural gas refinery on the banks of the Delaware River were thwarted by Delaware legislators who reminded them that the New Jersey’s border stopped at the banks of the river. The docks would have been crossing into Delaware.

Rarely do these disputes ever result in new border lines, and almost never do states settle the disputes with hostile action. But as Tennessee partisans are calling all hands to deck in the Vol Navy, they should remember Virginia’s successful invasion of North Carolina.

In the summer of 1718, a ruthless pirate named Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach) ran his Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on the shoals of the Albemarle Sound. After Blackbeard set up a de facto truce with North Carolina’s weak governor, Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood decided it was time to rid the Atlantic colonies of this menace.

Spotswood sent two sloops commanded by Lt. Robert Maynard into North Carolina. Maynard and the 60 men under his command ultimately defeated Blackbeard, and took his head back to Hampton, Va., where they placed in on a spike in the town square.

Georgia-Tennessee State Line (Google Maps)

Georgia-Tennessee State Line

New Jersey-Delaware State Line (Christian Science Monitor)

New Jersey-Delaware State Line


Full Iowa Caucus Results

Once again, the experts have saved me hours of Photoshopping work. The Des Moines Register has a page with an electoral map flash feature. You can select each candidate, and the map shows which place he or she finished in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

On the Democratic side, it’s interesting that Barack Obama did well in the same vote-rich eastern belt of the state that gave John Kerry wide margins in 2004. John Edwards was just as popular in the southern part of the state in 2008 as he was four years ago. And Hillary Clinton seems to have excelled in random pockets in the North and West.

Barack Obama’s Iowa Caucus Results
Barack Obama Iowa Electoral Map

John Edwards’ Iowa Caucus Results
John Edwards Iowa Electoral Map

Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Caucus Results
Hillary Clinton Iowa Electoral Map

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee finished first in the middle part of Iowa while Mitt Romney did best on the flanks. I don’t know enough about the demographics of the Iowa GOP to explain this. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I also included Ron Paul‘s electoral map because I think he’s a fascinating candidate and it’s interesting to see which counties picked up his banner.

Mike Huckabee’s Iowa Caucus Results
Mike Huckabee Iowa Caucus Results

Mitt Romney’s Iowa Caucus Results
Mitt Romney Iowa Electoral Map

Ron Paul Iowa Caucus Results Ron Paul Iowa Electoral Map

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

Politico’s “Tracking the Candidates”

John Edwards vowed that he would visit all 99 counties in Iowa before the caucuses were over. Thanks to Politico‘s new feature “Tracking the Candidates,” we’ll know whether or not he — or any other candidate — hits that mark.

As part of their “Iowa Ground Game” special report, Politico‘s launched a feature that allows readers to click on any county and see how many times the frontrunning candidates have visited.

It’s a useful feature if you’re trying to track how many times each candidate has visited a specific county, but the flash software is a bit bush league. We’d expect a little bit better from the Politico. And what’s with the name “Tracking the Candidates”? I guess the name”Map the Candidates” was already taken.

Politico‘s Iowa Map of Democrats

Politico’s Iowa Map of Democrats

Politico‘s Iowa Map of Republicans

Politico’s Iowa Map of Republicans

South of the Mason-Dixon Line, North of the Confederacy

Maryland’s awkward geographic location south of the Mason-Dixon Line but North of the Confederacy earned it the moniker the “Middle Temperament.” Most of the state has a Northern tilt, but the Eastern Shore sometimes seems as Southern as any state in the old Confederacy.

In fact, the Eastern Shore was home to two of America’s most iconic figures during the era when America was torn apart by slavery: Harriet Tubman and slave trader Patty Cannon. Everyone knows Tubman but Cannon was just as big a figure her day and seems to have been swept under the carpet of American history.

Maryland did outlaw slavery eventually and remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War. But it wasn’t a clear choice. President Lincoln had to impose martial law and General Robert E. Lee tried to incite rebellion, ordering his troops to chant “Maryland, My Maryland” on their march to Antietam.

Like most of the South, the Eastern Shore remains rural, conservative and reliably Republican. The Eastern Shore’s nine counties, from the Elk River in the north to Assateague Island in the south, gave George W. Bush nearly 40,000 more votes than John Kerry in 2004. That’s a 60-38% rout.

But those votes don’t have much of an impact statewide. The Eastern Shore has only eight percent of Maryland’s population even though it covers nearly one third of the state. “In the 160 years between 1790 and 1950, the Eastern Shore… only doubled in population,” according to the Almanac of American Politics.

Shore voters and politicians understand that they’re don’t fit Maryland’s blue state profile. In 1998, state Senators Richard Colburn and Lowell Stoltzfus submitted a bill titled “Eastern Shore – Secession From Maryland.”

The bill’s purpose was to “to determine the sense of the voters of those counties on the issue of whether the nine counties of the Eastern Shore should secede from the State of Maryland.”

The bill never left committee, and the Eastern Shore isn’t going to secede form Maryland anytime soon. But the Shore will remain a distinctively Republican pocket of a reliably Democratic state, and at the same time, it’s crabs, ducks and rockfish will continue to be the symbol of what is Maryland.

The Eastern Shore in the Mid-1800’s

Eastern Shore

Then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) vs. then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley (D) in 2006

Maryland Governor 2006