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Rick Wicklin

If the NYT design is to "point out ... that the supporters of Clinton are clustered into these densely populated urban areas,"
I think it would be interesting to overlay these maps with cutoff maps that use population density at the county level to separate the country into regions of low- and high-population density. To finding the cutoff, I'd try using a logistic model with binary response "county went for Clinton" and explanatory variable "population density."

George Dawson

WHat does Obama's America look like?


I dislike these maps for a different reason.

Thee maps are being put out there to illustrate the “two Americas” story, and many are using them to point out how disconnected the two Americas are.

But is a 51-49 area (county?) really that different from a 49-51 area? I keeping think the thinking behind Gelman’s “the difference between statistically significant and not statistically significant may not be statistically significant.” Two whatevers right on opposite sides of a line aren’t necessarily that different.

I think it would be much more informative to show the 60-40/40-60 split. Heck, even the 55-45/45-55 split.

I live in a 59/37 town, but I see a few Trump signs when I drive around town (and more Trump signs than Hillary signs). But I litterally live right on the border of a 45/52 town, too. Do I really live in a different American than my immediate next door neighbor?

I understand the need to draw lines of some sort. I understand the need for thresholds. But figures need to tell a story, and the binary story of “two Americas” is simply too simplicistic to be really informative about the country in which we live.

As long as one is doing multiple maps, why not three? Why not one where Trump led by 10+ (i.e., not close), one where Clinton led by 10+ (i.e., not close), and one where the margin was within 10? Or change the margine to 5. Or even 2.

In fact, we are not divided into two distinct Americas, despite the two Americas story. We are divided house to house, often individual to individual. Once you leave state lines behind (which are signficant because of the electoral college and the election of senators by state), there is no practical signficance or enlightenment to be gained by claiming — as these two maps do — that we should view 50.1/49.9 areas are being a different American than 49.9/50.1.

(To say nothing of measurement error and questions about construct definition, perhaps the subject of another comment.)


Are you looking for this? http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2016/

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