Here in The States, the presidential election draws nigh. I have my opinion. You have yours. Let’s grab a pint and throw darts for luck.
What I think is funny is how much attention has recently been drawn to what a polarized nation we are. For example, in 2008, the electoral map looked like this:
The Upper-East Coast went Blue. As did The Slim West, Florida, my state (CO), and my state’s southern buddy where my family comes from (NM). Some procedural thing with Nebraska. Everything else is Red.
So whatever. Here’s the thing: We used to be much different. We think it’s North vs South, East vs West. But not so. Truth is, we’ve always been polarized. Only in different ways.
Here’s Clinton’s 2nd win, in 1996:
Notice the swipe down thru the Central South. Can you imagine such a thing today? A Democrat winning a big swath thru the center of the country? And yet that’s how it was just a few years ago.
In 1984, as we all know Reagan destroyed Whatshisname. (Mondale was his name, btw.) But in 1972, Nixon similarly wiped the floor with McGovern:
A Republican got CA, NY, and nearly all the Seaboard States. 1972 and 1984. Wow!
Before that, it was all over the map. Lyndon B. Johnson cleaned Goldwater in 1964. Kennedy eeked by in 1960. Eisenhower killed it in 1956 and 1952. In 1948, against all odds, Truman kicked ass 303 to 189, plus another 39 against the original gangsta white supremacist Strom Thurmond (as indicated in yellow, below). (Regarding the beige, DC then could not vote; AK and HI were not yet states.)
In case you Democrats are wondering, didn’t we ever lick it? Yes. It was back during The Greatest Generation. The one they all talk about. Here’s FDR slaying Herbert C. Hoover in 1932:
Previously, Republicans Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding won big. Woodrow Wilson, a moderate Democrat who famously advocated on behalf of the League of Nations, barely squeaked by, the first time against the progressive Theodore Roosevelt (in yellow below), who had run previously as a Republican. (Wilson’s official opponent, Republican William Taft, appears in red.)
Before that, only one Democrat won the day—twice non-sequentially, in 1892 and 1884—Grover Cleveland. Otherwise, our country was solidly Republican. Starting with a guy named Abraham Lincoln, who in his second term ran against an infamous relative of mine, General George B. McClellan, and handsomely won:
Hence the Grand Old Party. I like to think Geo McClellan is my familial ancestor, Abe Lincoln is my intellectual one.
Regardless, if you want my prediction, Obama will win by a squeak. Both according to the electoral college and by the popular vote. Here’s how I think it might shape out:
California used to proffer 5 electoral votes. Now it’s 55. Florida has jumped from 0 to 6 to 29. Me, I’m a fraction of a state that has barely moved from its inception and nowadays offers 9. If I’m right, great. If not, tell me how wrong I was. We will see soon enough.
Addendum, Nov 7, 2012:
Okay, the evening is over. And while I was right about Obama squeaking by, I was wrong about how much. I didn’t see him getting Virginia and Florida. (The latter, in particular, is so fickle. In any and all circumstances, you really want to give FL to the guys with the biggest bats.) Meanwhile, I was so wrapped up in the history of the thing that I insanely assigned Maryland to Romney. But to my small credit, I rightly assigned my home state, CO, to Obama.
My original estimate had Obama winning 280 to Mr. Romney’s 258. (Correct for my Maryland mistake, and it woulda been 290 to 248.) In fact the real gap appears to be 332 to 206. But, hey, I imagined the popular vote to be exactly as it turned out to be. (I made no mention of it, but trust me, I was thinking it.) So, really, who’s counting?
Anyway, now that that’s over, what’s the next thing?