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US Election: Cartogram Special

  • Written by  Benjamin Hennig
  • Published in Mapping
US Election: Cartogram Special Benjamin Hennig/viewsoftheworld.net
14 Nov
Geographical’s resident data cartographer, Benjamin Hennig, breaks down the recent US election results

The electorate of the United States of America has come to a decision about who is to become their next president. But not quite the whole electorate went to the polls: Turnout was at a long-term low in respect to the total eligible population of the country, with only 55 per cent of voting age citizens having cast their ballot in the 2016 presidential election. Long gone are the days in which up to around 80 per cent of the electorate went to the polls: This was last seen in the 19th century.

60,265,858 votes (47.3 per cent) were cast for Donald Trump, while Hillary Clinton received 60,839,922 votes (47.8 per cent). Other candidates combined reached 6,226,950 votes (4.9 per cent). The following cartogram shows the distribution of votes for the two main candidates. Shown in diverging colours is each respective candidate who received the largest share of votes in each county. The cartogram itself shows an equal-population projection (a gridded population cartogram) where each grid cell in the map is resized according to the total number of people living there. The main cartogram is accompanied by a second map showing the distribution of votes that went to neither of the two candidates, and a ‘conventional’ reference map that also shows the states of Alaska and Hawaii.

US election 2016 CartogramCartogram showing the 2016 US election results (Click image for larger version)

The population-centric perspective of this map shows that Trump’s success has largely been in the more rural areas, while Clinton won more of the votes in the urban areas. An analysis by The Economist showed that ‘80 per cent of voters who have over one square mile (2.6 square km) of land to enjoy to themselves backed Mr Trump.’

As also reflected in the geographic voting patterns in the cartogram, the more densely populated an area becomes (shown as the larger grid cells which are proportional to their total population), the more likely was Clinton’s success with voters there.

Benjamin Hennig (@geoviews) is Assistant Professor in Geography, University of Iceland and Honorary Research Associate in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. He is part of the Worldmapper project and is author of www.viewsoftheworld.net

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