Friday, January 21, 2005

THE URBAN ARCHIPELAGO: It's the Cities, Stupid.

by The Editors of The Stranger

It's the Cities, Stupid.
There are two maps on this page.
The one at the top should be familiar. It's one of those red-state/blue-state maps that have been tormenting Democrats, liberals, and progressives since November of 2000. Over the 36 days that George W. Bush and Al Gore fought for the White House in Florida, "red" and "blue" became metaphors for America's divided electorate. Red vs. Blue--Democrat vs. Republican; liberal vs. conservative; pro-life vs. pro-choice; gun-huggers vs. gun-haters; gay-huggers vs. gay-haters.
The red-state/blue-state map opposite shows the results of 2004's presidential election--red states won by George W. Bush, blue states won by John F. Kerry. But the red-state/blue-state map is misleading. If a Republican presidential candidate takes 50 percent of the vote plus 1 vote in any given state, the whole state is colored red (even worse, a mere plurality of voters can turn a state red when third parties are involved). The same goes for the Democratic candidate--corral the most votes, and the whole state is colored blue. But painting an entire state one color or the other creates a false impression, an impression that we believe is hampering the Democratic Party's efforts to pull itself out of its tailspin.
Take a look at the second map. This map shows a county-by-county red/blue breakdown, and it provides a clearer picture of the bind the Democrats finds themselves in. The majority of the blue states--Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware--are, geographically speaking, not blue states. They are blue cities. ..