were widely touted as 'proof' that America is truly Conservative. That in America, conservative Republicans are the mainstream. Maps like this one from the 2004 election:
from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ ( a site endorsed by Brit Hume and David Brooks, among others) can be found scattered throughout the right-wing blogosphere as well as having been discussed on FOX news and all over talk radio. I distinctly remember Mary Matalin gushing on one of the Sunday news shows about the number of counties that went for Bush (as seen above).
Interestingly, few if any of the pundits like to mention that in 2004, for instance, Bush won by but 34 electoral votes (286 to Kerry's 252). If America is a red as the pundits want us all to believe, why wasn't the margin of victory something like, oh I don't know, maybe a 220 vote margin (as in Clinton's 1996 victory over Bob Dole, 379 to 159)? Neocons were apparently too busy telling us that Bush's 34 electoral vote, 3% popular vote win was a 'clear mandate' to notice that the actual numbers undercut their propagandistic rhetoric...
But what do these maps really tell us? Is it true that all those counties were 100% pro-Bush? Is it true that "AMERICA" is almost totally conservative, with 'librals' only found in a few hold-out rural cesspools?
Well, Mary Matalin and the neocons might be proud of the acreage of dirt and nothingness that went for Bush, but I find color-coded maps that actually portray the numbers of votes - from actual people - far more interesting. Like this one:
Not quite as 'clear-cut' as those maps hawked by right-wing pundits and absolutist knownothings, eh?
I also like this one, which takes actual numbers of votes into account:
(the above maps from http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/)
Or perhaps the following very informative histogram of 2004 presidential election results will shed some light on the heat. It graphs out results by county for each candidate:
We see something far more interesting there than we do in those bland 'red state' maps. Looking at the actual votes by county, we see that there are relatively few 'pure red' ones or 'pure blue' ones. While there are more 'red' counties overall than blue ones, there are clearly more blue voters in the major population areas of the country. And in the end, it is people that vote, not plots of land.
What does this tell us? Well, I am not claiming that the country is liberal, for that would be as wrong as claiming it is conservative. But I think it shows that the coutry is clearly not one extreme or the other, with many so-called 'swing voters'. The last two presidential and congressional elections - the 2004 one in particular - were pretty clearly won on fear-based rhetoric and a base of single issue voters (indicating to me that the 'swing voters' are fairly gullible when it comes to being scared), but that over time, even they will grow tired of the punditry and being taken advantage of, if this 2006 congressional election map is any indicator: