US Election: Nixon’s victory by cartogram

  • Written by  Geographical Archive
  • Published in Mapping
 Former President Nixon in 1968 Former President Nixon in 1968 Maharepa/Creative Commons
03 Nov
2016
The true proportions of Richard Nixon’s victory in the 1972 US presidential election can be shown by cartographic methods

Geographical Archive

Geographical 1973

Geographical 1973

Geographical 1973

Geographical 1973

The true proportions of Mr Nixon’s victory in the USA presiden­tial election can be shown by cartographic methods. A comparison with the 1968 results, using non-contiguous cartograms, indicates the scale of McGovern’s defeat. In fact all but seventeen of the total 538 electoral votes went to the incumbent. The President polled 60 per cent of the total vote and 37.7 per cent passed to George McGovern. Nixon’s share almost matched L.B.J’s 1964 record - 61.1 per cent of the popular vote. At the electoral college level Mr Nixon may be said to be the most successful winner in dropping only Massachussetts and the District of Columbia, while F. D. Roosevelt lost two states out of forty-eight. A more dis­ quieting fact is that the 1972 poll attracted a turnout of just over 56 per cent of the total electorate, the lowest since 1948.

The South, usually quoted as the chief example of political regionalization in the nation, went to Nixon. Arkansas went Republican for the first time in too years. The Democratic tradition in the South was broken in 1968 with only Texas going to Humphrey. Preliminary analysis of precinct data reveals mass switching from Wallace to Nixon in 1972. Further analysis must proceed before suggesting a diminution of Southern Democratic allegiances. However, political scientist Donald S. Strong believes that old loyalties are being replaced by voting based on calculations of class advantage.

This swing towards Republicanism and Nixon did not filter down to other contests. Despite the overwhelming victory of the President, Democrats did remarkably well in these other elections through exceedingly high levels of ticket splitting. In the Senate, for example, the Grand Old Party – Republican – needed four seats to gain a majority but finished by losing two further seats. Perhaps it is here in the Senate, with its increased Democratic majority, that Edward Kennedy will slowly start to prepare his platform for the 1976 contest with Spiro Agnew.

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