My newest project at America magazine details when each county in the U.S. adopted its current political hue.
If this year’s presidential election is at all competitive, we will see the major candidates zero in on a handful of “battleground” states and ignore most of the United States. The red-versus-blue electoral map has changed little since achieving iconic status in 2000; all but 10 states have repeated their choice of party three times. A slight majority of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States have voted the same way over the past seven elections; at the county level, the current red-versus-blue map was mostly written by 1988, when the first president Bush defeated Michael Dukakis.
Mitt Romney won 2,090 counties by at least 10 points, and President Obama won 468 counties (mostly larger and more urban) by at least 10 points—leaving 557 counties that could be considered “purple” by the most generous definition. It would take a landslide this fall to shake many of the counties out of their decades-old voting habits. The maps below illustrate how the current political map has evolved over the past century, showing when each country slipped into the groove it inhabited in 2012.
See the entire project here.