Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Update:The Importance of Geography

Note the following maps of three presidential elections. What stands out?

2012 Electoral Map

2008 Electoral Map

1860 Electoral Map

What strikes me most in these maps is the continuity of geographical pattern. 2012, 2008, and 1860 are much alike in terms of the states that voted for the Democratic and Republican candidates in these three elections. (Of course, in 1860 the parties are reversed, i. e., blue is Republican, and red represents Southern Democrats, but the regional pattern is similar with border states both illustrating and complicating matters.)

I will retreat from my thesis as brutal facts annihilate another beautiful theory, but I find it interesting to play with.

As I said to my daughter regarding a similar issue, "It all begins with climate and soil."  Cf. Montesquieu (1689 –  1755). Begin with cotton-growing dirt and favorable weather, add the invention of the cotton gin, and, Voila, you have important clues to the Civil War. Anybody likely to read this can spell all this out as well as I can.

Is this all there is to it? Does geography explain it all? Of course not, but it is often an important and fascinating element in the total picture. It reminds us that we are not pure minds contemplating the eternal essences but flesh and blood made from mud  (Genesis 2:7)  who are very much earth creatures. At the same time we have amazing capacities for inventing technologies and cultures that set us apart. Just don't forget geography, i. e.,  what we can learn from climate and location.
*The present-day pattern is evident also in 2004 though the continuity is a less evident than between 08 and 12.
Friday, May 25, 2012

A Geographical Theory of Same-Sex Marriage

The acceptance of same-sex marriage is coming. With a few exceptions it is coming and will come geographically: Northeastern states -- including New York and Maryland, West coast, Upper Midwest, and eventually the Southwest, and the Southeast. Mississippi or Utah  may be last. Of course, anomalies and deviations from this geographical pattern will occur, but overall it will generally hold. One could predict more accurately perhaps by using zip codes -- still a geographical factor.
Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Geographical Theory of Winning in 2008

Look at the electoral maps of 2000 and 2004. The geographical pattern is striking, allowing for minor exceptions. The blue Democratic states are the Northeast, the upper Midwest, and the states bordering the Pacific. The red Republican states are the Southeast, Southwest, lower Midwest, mountain and plains states. A pre-Civil War map showing free (blue) and slave (red) states and territories almost exactly matches the electoral map of 2004.

While electoral maps of many other years would not be this striking, a geographical factor is present, except in blowout years like 1936, 1972, and 1984. Look at it another way. Democrats won the large cities, while Republicans won the small towns and rural areas, with the suburbs split. Divisions are also noticeable with regard to income, education,, religion, race and ethnicity, age, marital status, and gender, but geography is relevant to many of these as well. Zip code is an important clue all by itself.

Since this is a blog and not a book, what can we learn from this? Geography is a useful clue to many other things -- history, economics, religion, and culture. The geography of the South, e. g., was conducive to cotton growing and therefore slavery, which has deeply affected its entire history. Geographical factors account in part for immigration patterns and the Protestant domination of the South.

Geography is a component of, if not clue to, how things work out in other areas with regard to economics, culture, and religion.