Aftermath: A Distorted View of America and Why Seceding Can’t Succeed

| November 12, 2012

When the Wall Street Journal published a detailed red-and-blue map of the counties that voted for either party just three days after Election Day, it looked like a Republican cartographer’s wet dream. However, the map baffled many on the right: How could the rendering still be as red as a bloody meat wrapper when President Obama roundly defeated Governor Romney in the Electoral College 332 to 206?

The G.O.P. treated the map like a bandage for its recent election wounds and many on the right used it as a way of showing “how much more divided our country has become.” They cried that the Electoral College is antiquated and should be eradicated; Furthermore they simply couldn’t believe how all those tiny blue dots could end up calling the shots in that mass of red.


Below is the map from The Wall Street Journal that shows the county-by-county breakdown. The average viewer could be deceived into thinking that the Republicans were correct in saying that the country was more divided, and if you glanced at the newspaper in the check-out line and walked away you’d think Obama’s second term was already illegitimate. But that is far from the case: More Americans actually live in those smaller, densely populated blue specks, and those urban areas are overwhelmingly Democratic.

Mark Newman, from the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, created the below cartogram, which has been re-scaled and distorted to show the country based on population.  (The various shades are for delineation purposes only.)

The top ten most populous states in descending order as of July 1, 2011, are:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New York
  4. Florida
  5. Illinois
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Ohio
  8. Michigan
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina

Seven of those ten states went blue; the exceptions were Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Note how the red states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota seem vice-griped into a tiny nugget in the northwestern part of the Continental U.S.

All five of the aforementioned states combined have a total  population of 4.6 million spread out over 476,245 square miles. Compare that just New York City alone, which has nearly double the population with 8.2 million people crammed into only 468 square miles. The total electoral votes from those red states is 16, whereas New York State has 29 votes.

Breakdown: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota have 16 votes for 4.6 million people, and New York State has 20 votes for 19.4 million people. It takes 287,500 people in the aforementioned red states to get one electoral vote, whereas in New York State it takes 668, 965 people to get one electoral vote — that’s more than double the amount of New Yorkers needed for a single vote in the Electoral College.

In 2000, Democrats clamored that the Electoral College should be dismantled when President George W. Bush won reelection with 271 electoral votes to Vice President Al Gore’s 266, though Gore received 543,895 more actual votes than Bush. And even though Obama won the popular vote for his reelection by 3,202, 936 (and an electoral trouncing of 126 more votes), the Republicans still think we should do way with the Electoral College.

The theory is that more people would vote if they knew their vote “counted,” but either way you look at it, those odds remain in the favor of the Democrats if the country switched to counting only the popular votes. And now they want to secede.

Tens of thousands of Louisianans signed an online petition at following the 2012 election demanding secession so they could create their “own new government.” The Bayou State is the forty-ninth poorest in the union (Mississippi also petitioned to secede and it ranks fiftieth) and in terms of receiving federal aid, Louisiana ranks sixth in the country. Citizens of thirteen other states (Oregon, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia) are currently plugging in their information for online petitions with the hopes of separating from the United States and forming their own countries.

Arguably, however, only the Republic of Texas can secede from the Union. Its defenders point to Texas v. White and to loopholes within the state’s Constitution and that Texas was a republic prior to being absorbed into the United States. (The latter is a weaker argument since Hawaii, California, and Vermont were also republics). Whether Texas can secede constitutionally is a debate that rages on in courtrooms, law schools, and most angrily by Confederate flag-draped white men every election season. That said, Texas is one of only a few states that could possibly strike out on its own and survive.

Of course any of the other aforementioned states could, in an act of treason, secede by force to become the world’s newest impoverished nations. Not only are the majority of blue states the most populous, they are also the states with the most wealth, and with that comes the most taxes. And those blue states’ taxes pave their roads, turn on their street lights, run their schools, and make their water drinkable.

While some Republicans in the Great Plains, the Rockies, and much of the Deep South complain about the bright red map, they’ve failed to realize it’s the deceptively small blue cogs that actually keep the machine that is America rolling along — and it’s the blue states’ money that fills the tank.


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Category: Analyze, Featured

Comments (8)

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  1. reeblite says:

    don’t be fooled, the oil alone would keep them afloat.

    • Jimmy Carl Black says:

      @ reeblite – Not unless they became a socialist republic, which would seem to defeat the purpose of secession in the first place. Otherwise all the oil profits would go exactly where they go now: to the executives and board members of the oil companies. The US now produces enough oil to be self-sufficient, but where are all those profits for the American people? Exactly…

    • natsteel says:

      Does the state of Louisiana own the oil or the oil companies in the Gulf?

  2. Sam Solidarity Nicolosi says:

    Force… as much as it seems a Feel Good solution, is no solution at all. If any Stat were to leave (highly unlikely), it must be completely voluntary. They must bear TOTAL responsibility for such folly… no blaming “us” ten years down the road. While acknowledging the extreme unlikeliness of such a departure, I still must admit I would most happily see them go !

  3. Patty - From NC says:

    So, the Red States money – doesn’t fill any of the tanks of America – so it shouldn’t matter to anyone – if they do secede – since their money doesn’t do anything for America. Maybe their money would be BETTER spent in their own COUNTRIES..

    • Meena Mehta says:

      Patty from NC-feel free to secede but my guess is that if you don’t fill the tanks of America, you help drain it. Secede and see how well you do the next time a hurricane batters your shores without the money from those socialists in the blue states.

    • Mike says:

      The red states, on average, consume more in tax revenue than they produce. The blue states, on average, produce more than they consume. It’s not that the red states don’t contribute anything but they are, on average, net takers and it seems like a lot of people in those states aren’t aware of that fact.

      So they’d get their small government by necessity. We could even protect the borders the way some of them wanted except instead of the border between the U.S. and Mexico it’d be the border between the U.S. and their state. Maybe bring on Herman Cain to help put up some of those huge electrified fences.

      Economically speaking Texas is probably the only red state that would have any reasonable shot of making it solo.

  4. GMILLER says:

    Why don’t we take the people who wish to secede and just move them all to Alaska? It is big enough, it is far enough away and then the rest of us can spread out a little. Oh, and don’t forget to tell them that since they don’t believe in global warming that they should feel free to build right up to the waters edge and out on the ice…WAY OUT THERE