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The New York Times this week published an "extremely detailed map of the 2016 election," which also happens to be extremely misleading and useless.

The election results most readers are familiar with are county maps like the ones we produce at The Times on election night. But votes are cast at a much finer unit of geography — in precincts, which may contain thousands of voters but in some cases contain only a handful. Our previous election maps contained results for about 3,100 counties; here we show results for more than 168,000 voting precincts.

The problem with the Times's map is that it promotes the visual narrative of a Donald Trump/Republican landslide. Just look at all that red! However, there are actual people in the blue areas. No matter, Trump probably already has the map pinned to the refrigerator in the White House residence. "Hey, Melanie! Look what I did!" "Yes, Donald, it's very pretty."


I suppose it bears repeating again that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. The margin wasn't narrow like Al Gore's in 2000 but roughly equal to the combined populations of Vermont, Wyoming, and South and North Dakota. Everyone understands this, though, so why am I yelling at the nice map? Well, about that...

Roughly half of voters who said they voted for Donald Trump last November, 49 percent, believe Trump won the popular vote, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. That's compared to 40 percent who say Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Overall, a majority of voters, 59 percent, believe Clinton won more votes than Trump, but 28 percent believe Trump won more votes.

Wow! A majority of Americans believe an easily verifiable fact. I'm overwhelmed by all the exceptionalism. The Electoral College is weird and crazy undemocratic. Get a few beers into the average American and they'll probably admit that it's a little, I dunno, crooked for the person who received fewer votes to win the White House Cadillac and set of steak knives. This map, with its sea of reds in varying shades, subtly makes us all feel better about the outcome of the 2016 election. Democracy stands!

Who let this guy into my post? Great, now I have to look at reality as it actually is. Thanks, Obama Mr. Cole! Look at all the empty space in the states that overwhelmingly voted for the guy with the empty head? It's no wonder Lex Luthor was so obsessed with land in the 1978 Superman movie. He knew it had the power of the vote.

There's also the demographic reality that minorities overwhelmingly live in densely populated blue areas, while white folks roam free in sparsely populated red areas. Viewed in racial terms, the Times map presents an inarguably white majority. However, if you're a Trump supporter, land doesn't really have your back. Land doesn't serve your meals in fancy farm-to-table restaurants or prepare your takeout sushi order.

No county in America voted more strongly for Mrs. Clinton than the District of Columbia. Only 7 percent of Mr. Trump's current neighbors, in the precinct surrounding the White House, voted for him. And the president would have to travel about 20 miles in any direction from the White House, beyond the Beltway, to find a precinct that voted for him.

Maybe Trump should consider moving his entire administration to one of the many empty areas on the map. He could call the new Trump-friendly capitol "Marina del Donald" or "Ivankaburgh." The funny thing, though, is that the wealthiest parts of the country are in the blue areas ("red" state arguably has a dual economic and political meaning). That's what's so ironic about the socialism debate. Critics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's diabolical scheme to transform the nation into a socialist nightmare state like to reference Margaret Thatcher's famous saying that "the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Well, a lot of "other people" live in the blue areas.

[XKCD.com]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.

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