Federal Government

Election 2012 Boils Down To Physics

A reader directed us to a “creative commons” website created by a University of Michigan Prof who has created a series of red and blue maps which explain in vivid color why Obama won the election.

Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan shows us why acreage doesn’t really matter when it comes to the electoral college.

ROMNEY won the acreage, but OBAMA got the votes in the right places to win.

This map will probably not do much to unite the country or create a lovefest between the Repubs and Dems, but it is an interesting look at politics from the eye of a Physicist.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Grumpy ole guy
    Nov 11, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Thanks for this, I love “stuff” like this.

  2. Brian Vermillion
    Nov 11, 2012, 2:21 pm

    I’m told back in the old days that only property owners could vote. This seems reasonable to me. As it is now only property owners pay property taxes yet renters receive the value of public education yet don’t pay for it. Parents should be assessed on a per head basis also. Why should a retired senior citizen pay property taxes to support a family with 6 kids in public school that rents their home and therefore pays nothing in property taxes?

  3. It is coming down to urban versus rural; make it versus buy it; have the government do it versus let industry do it; get it versus give it; pay it versus receive it; values versus rights…..and it is not going to change any time soon. At some point the give aways will run out (they already except we just borrow more) and then watch out.

  4. If property taxes are not part of the rent, then it is because the landlord should not be in the business. Renters are paying taxes through the rent just like retailers are paying the sales taxes quarterly on the money they collect from you. Property taxes are not a line item on your rent bill. I am glad I have been able to vote since I turned 18 and I never owned property until I was 30. I know many veterans who rent. Should they not be able to vote? Should land owning, non veterans be able to send kids into wars and then deny them the right to vote?

  5. Blue areas represent population centers of higher education. Red areas represent lower areas of education and higher amount of religion. Also people who eat grits.

  6. As the Professor points out, this map isn’t particularly useful. If you click at the link and look at the map right below it, you can see a better representation. It’s corrected for population. Even more interesting further down.

  7. Brian and Dog:

    Only property owners being able to vote is a hold over from the days when people tried to stop black people from voting.

    What makes sense to me is that only those who are contributors should be able to vote. The trick is defining “contributor”. Being a numbers guy, I tend to think in terms of net. Someone who is on welfare, getting food stamps, Obama phone, and subsidized housing, is likley a net non-contributor, even if they have a job, if the dolar value of their government give-me’s is greater than the taxes they pay.

    Someone who pays $2,000 total in taxes, but gets back $3,000 in food stamps (or low income housing, or unemployment, or obama phone, etc) is not a contributor and should not be able to particpate in determining the rules. Those who abuse government programs and/or those who are pepetual benefactors of handouts will always vote to continue and/or enhance such programs. Only those who fund the programs should determine how the programs are managed, via voting.

    That is why they call it pay to play, too many people are playing in the entitlement programs but not paying.

    When I owned restaraunts and unemployment was high at about 10%, it was still hard to get employees. People would apply for jobs everyday, I would call them for an interview and they would decline to interview. They were making about $10 per hour on different government programs, why would they loose eligibility for those programs, when my fast food job only paid $8 per hour? They only applied for the job since some of their government handouts required so many applications per week in their job search.

  8. “Blue areas represent population centers of higher education. Red areas represent lower areas of education and higher amount of religion. Also people who eat grits.”

    Hmmmm, yeah sure, perhaps in your mind. The blue blotches contain concentrated tracts with inhabitants that have given us Ebonics, whole communities/neighborhoods that still use their native language as their primary or, in many cases, only language. They have whole, concentrated populations who don’t get fed, sheltered, or watered, their messes cleaned up, or their garbage hauled unless some level of government provides it gratis for them. These same areas have produced so many teen and pre-teen “mothers” that eleven and twelve year old pregnant females have ceased to be remarkable. These are the areas of the country where aberrant behavior is not only accepted as their norm, it appears to be encouraged.

    A more factual explanation for the maps blue splatters will be found in the studies of overcrowding done by John B. Calhoun.

    In many of your bastions of blue, the “rent” is not paid to the landlord by the structure’s inhabitants but instead is paid by some level of government through subsidized housing and Aid to Dependant Children. Many of these voters do believe in Santa Clause because that is the way it really works for them.

    As far as the supposition that allowing eighteen year olds to vote is justified by the few of them, based on population numbers, who actually do serve in our military? Even those who do serve successfully in the defense of the Republic do so under very strict regulations with the direct guidance of, training by, and leadership from more mature NCOs and Officers. I am not saying that our current E 1-2-3s are not dedicated or intelligent, but they are young people still developing their thought processes. At least GIs are tested for drug use and held to high moral and ethical standards. . . Tests that I doubt your current leader and his inner circle could pass and ethics at which they fail miserably .

  9. Judging by many of the comments here, it’s not only young people who are still developing their thought processes.

  10. DeterminedVoter
    Nov 12, 2012, 8:59 pm

    These comments are rotten.
    I don’t know anyone on this board and from your comments, I don’t want to meet you.
    I have been a residential and commercial landlord and the property taxes were paid from the rental incomes.
    When I started my first business in Idaho, I paid a Luxury tax on jewelry and a Chrysler. Don’t anymore.
    My father’s estate had an Inheritance tax, my leftovers to my kids will not, thanks to a loophole.
    Had an orchard and didn’t pay taxes due to depreciation.
    My friends have cattle, they winter in Palm Springs but final numbers on their taxes say they qualify for food stamps.
    The tax codes favor the wealthy.
    A young couple with kids pay taxes on most of what they have. Cars, gas, cellphones, groceries,
    Romney only showed 2 years of taxes because he probably paid zero, like so many 1 Percenters. His accountants, PWC
    Greed is like any addiction; you can never get enough of what you crave.
    I respect the Blue areas on this map. Usually these are nicer people, more parks, better streets and neighborhoods, libraries, cleaner lakes and rivers, etc.
    Today a Conservative is mean, selfish, judgemental and lies.
    And, don’t forget the mentioned “Obama Phone” comment from “JJ” was from the Regan Era ! But FAUX news never told him that.

    EDITOR NOTE–Just who is it you don’t want to meet? The GUARDIAN is only the keeper of the forum.

  11. BoiseCitizen
    Nov 12, 2012, 9:53 pm

    These posts are disturbing in the extreme. They show an absolute denial of the American political process. Like two year olds who don’t get their way they want to change the system to satisfy their inability to accept change. To take away an individuals right to vote for economic reasons borders on treason. How many Americans have died to give us the right to vote? If your side loses you should reorganize and become relevant to get a majority of citizens to vote for your party.

    EDITOR NOTE–Many of those who died didn’t own property either–they were renters!

  12. Determined is obviously a self made man who has worked all of the tax loopholes to his advantage. Probably pretty tuff on his kids living in Palm Springs on food stamps after having such a successful role model. You wouldn’t be the guy the Gov is laughing at would you?

  13. Ah, the old renters don’t pay property taxes fallacy. Hello, renters pay more property taxes. You all have heard of the homeowner’s exemption, right?

  14. I stand by my comment that only those who are contributors to society should be able to vote on how our society is run. That principle does not discriminate based on economics. You can be dirt poor, own no assets, but still working and contributing.

    How “contributor” is defined is certainly a debate in itself.

    Social assitance programs are meant to be a bridge to self-sufficiency. Those who are mentally and physcialy able to work, but choose a life of perpetual social assistance instead I think have forfieted their right particpate in how our society is run and funded. That right, in my opinion, is earned by being a contributor.

    Determined—-Yes Obamaphone is a 1985 program, in 2008 when Obama was elected about $700M federal dollars were funding the program. Under Obama the program has essentially doubled it now costs us $1.6B. Of the 12.5M particpants in the program, 3.5M are Tracfone subscribers, a company owned by the richest man in the world, (Carlos Slim and Family $69B)and a huge Obama fund raiser and donor. I think most national policitians (R or D) are dirty and when elected (R or D) they owe favors to the ultra-wealthy who bank-rolled their campaign.

  15. Human Nature:
    – Those who have the gold, typically desire to keep their gold. (A variation on the Golden Rule.)
    – If one can have essentially the same lifestyle by either working or not working, for many people the not-working option is quite compelling. (It’s dangerous to incentivize idleness.)
    – If one candidate seems more likely to continue the “gravy train” than the other candidate, the gravy-train candidate is more likely to get the votes of the people who are riding the gravy train.

    When more people are riding the gravy train, than are pulling the gravy train, we’ve got a serious situation. It becomes much more likely to get bogged down.

    Should the riders have the same influence as the pullers? Tough question. (And one that won’t be resolved by the Boise Guardian Brain Trust, I’m afraid.)

    “I’m bikeboy, and I approve this message.”

  16. Don't Hate The Player
    Nov 13, 2012, 7:45 pm


    Good question about why a retired senior citizen should pay for education and schools. Here’s a better one: why should my children and I pay for Social Security *and* Medicare when we don’t get any benefit from it?

    Here’s why: because I truly believe we’re all in this together. The wages I make were definitely increased thanks to the education you helped provide–and I thank you for that. In your retirement, hopefully the extra amount I’m paying into Social Security and Medicare thanks to those higher wages is making your life better.

    I’m so tired of selfish people. No one seems to be interested in the betterment of society as a whole anymore. It’s all about ME!

    I shudder to think what future historians will write about our era…

    EDITOR NOTE–Very nicely stated! Average SS recipient (including the GUARDIAN editor) gets back everything they put in within a few short years.

  17. JJ, do you think all the farmers and ranchers that get subsidy payments and use public lands for practically free should not be able to vote?

  18. Good question dog. Going back to my first post, I would have to lean on the idea of net contributor since any one factor, such as being on food stamps, or subsidized federal lands is not enough to measure if one is a net contributor.

    If only one variable were enough, then I wouldn’t be able to vote (nor 100M other people) since I have a student loan that was subsidized by the Fed gov’t and at one time an SBA subsidized small business loan. However, despite those government programs I benefited from, my businesses pay a lot of taxes, my wages pay a lot of taxes, so I believe if you subtract what the government has given me in “cash-incentives” the cash I put back to the government through working is greater, hence I believe I am a net contributor.

    If the farmer or rancher is not a net contributor, then they are no better than the bum who can work, but chooses not too and has been on food stamps for several years.

    Despite what some posters might characterize me as a cold hearted elitist, I volunteer for a faith based employment agency that helps people with job searches. I help them fill out applications, build a resume and do mock interviews. Some are there because they really want a job and want to be productive. Many come there because their church or NGO or government will give them more free benefits if they document an effort to get a job, but they really do not want a job. I get huge satisfaction helping people find jobs and careers and an equal amount of anger at those who are able but do not try.

    I concede it is controversial, my of many opinions and hard to distinguish between those who are contributors, those who need help now but will be future contributors, and those who do not want to be a contributor.

    While bikeboy did not opine, he puts forth the question, should those riding the train have the same influence as those puling the train?

    I believe as a society those who are pulling the train have an ethical responsibility to help those just riding the train, but I do not think the riders should have an equal voice if they are not helping to pull the train or improving/preparing themselves to be in a position to help pull in the future.

  19. Good luck with the elitist thing JJ. Democracy does not always work for your type. Democracy presumes we are in this together. You sound like a monarchist.

    A lot of people who built the roads you drive on, built the house you live in, educated your children, treat you in a hospital, fight your wars, unplug your sewer, keep the internet going, don’t own realestate. Think about it when you order some food at a restaurant.

  20. It is hard to believe that Romney lost when you look at this map.

  21. The red people just need to be like OPEC and start charging huge for all the stuff shipped to the helpless over-educated blue people.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: