See Inside November 2006

Myth: Red-Blue States

American split in "culture war" unfounded

Beginning in the 2000 presidential election, the broadcast networks began showing Republican-won states in red and Democratic-won states in blue. Soon pundits were talking about the red states and the blue states as if they were two different countries, one dominated by evangelicals and the other by secularists. The nation, some claimed, was engaged in a culture war.

The 2004 presidential election map followed much the same pattern, reinforcing the notion. But the split is not an intrinsic feature of U.S. politics, as suggested by the map that shows marginal states in white. The 12 white states accounted for 25 percent of the electoral vote. This map shows that the election geography could change substantially with a relatively small shift in votes.

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