Monday, November 17, 2008

Correlation Between Cotton and Obama Votes

I saw just the graphics for this corollary the other day and meant to write up something about it, but the people at Strange Maps seem to have beaten me to it.

This first map indicates the county-by-county vote in the November 4 election (Obama in blue, McCain in red, with darker colors showing higher concentrations of votes). The one underneath indicates, as labeled, areas of cotton production in 1860, which necessarily denotes areas with higher numbers of african-american slaves, as they were integral to southerners' means of harvesting cotton:

This third graph represents the second laid over the first:

There are numerous interpretations as to why the outlying areas so seemingly rigidly didn't go for Obama, but, since I'm not a statistician, I feel uncomfortable committing to any one. Certainly race plays a factor both ways: 90% of black voters cast a ballot for Obama, and on the other side one cannot discount the probable influence of GOP's Southern Strategy in bringing segregation advocates into the party (a bloc that, lamentably, hasn't lost its efficacy).

However, neither of those two factors addresses the reason why so many southerners, who we cannot blindly label as racists, still cleave so strongly to the GOP. The other somewhat simple explanation is the religious angle, but that ignores Obama's very demonstrable faith; moreover, the voting phenomenon can't be dismissed as millions of people "buyin inter hyim sneakin Muslimry inter the Whaht Hass." At this point, I think there are simply too many variables to succinctly explain how eerily symmetrical that map overlay is. All we really can say is that the symmetry is simultaneously somewhat both heartening and mostly heartbreaking.