Hipster Map of the United States (interactive)

For this map, I assigned each county in the United States a Hipster Index, which is the geometric mean of four measures: percentage of population aged 20-34, percentage of population that is Non-Hispanic white, percentage of voters voting Democrat in the 2016 US presidential election, and percentage of workers employed in the arts and entertainment industry.

Cultural Zones of the United States

I always enjoy the US cultural region maps that get posted on reddit, mostly for the ensuing discussion and debate. I’ve always wanted to create my own, but it’s a more daunting task than it might appear at face value. Furthermore, I’m a sucker for objectivity, which is nigh impossible with such an endeavor.

I think the fatal flaws of most such maps are the hard borders (such things do not exist) and the regions that defy simple classification (such as Texas or the Great Basin). The map maker is faced with a choice: either regions that are so broad and sweeping that the final product doesn’t illicit much interest or insight; or a map that is broken down into so many regions that you end up with just a map of metropolitan areas.

To overcome these challenges, I overlaid the most popular such maps (as measured by upvotes on reddit), and took the common denominators. Regions that appeared over and over are colored on this map, and regions that changed identities from map to map have become transition zones.

Most Historically Popular / Unpopular Presidential Candidate by State, 1972-2016

For these maps, I found the percentage of each state’s total population voting for each candidate in all presidential elections from 1972 to 2016. The candidate who had the highest percentage (in any election year) is the “winner.”

I realize that it would be more ideal to use the actual eligible voting population, rather than the total population, but I have been unable to find that data further back than 2000. So, for the sake of uniformity, I have gone with total population. I do not believe that this greatly affects the results, at least not in the 1972-2016 time frame.

Data sources: Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential ElectionsFederal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (historical state population data)

Where Do “Red America” and “Blue America” Live? Voter Density in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

I created this map because I wanted to visualize the 2016 U.S. presidential election in a way that we’re not used to seeing it.  This is the kind of map that we’re perhaps most familiar with, and which President Trump is reportedly very fond of.  It is a simple map that shows counties as either blue or red with really no other information.  I believe that this kind of map leads to some widely-held misconceptions on both sides of the political divide.
One of those misconceptions comes from some on the right, who look at that map and see a sweeping mandate for their candidate.  I mean, look at the enormous sea of red that is America, with little blue islands clinging to existence.  Of course, the common response from the left to that interpretation is that “land doesn’t vote, people vote,” which, despite the fact that the Electoral College system does give more power to voters in low-population states, still holds largely true.  The implication of that response is that those enormous swaths of red are devoid of population.
Is that really true, though?  While “Red America” accounts for 74% of the land area of the U.S., it only accounts for 46% of the population.  This gives “Blue America” a population density over three times greater than that of Red America (184 persons per square mile vs 55 persons per square mile).  However, we’re not talking about the difference in population density between, say, New York City and Idaho here, but more like the difference between Indiana and Iowa.
This misconception is aided by the fact that it is easy to look at the simple red/blue map and pick out major cities.  Anyone familiar with the geography of Texas, for example, can look at that map and easily pick out the major cities of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.  It would be easy to reach the erroneous conclusion that “urban areas are blue and rural areas are red.”  However, this ignores the the fact, demonstrated by the map I’ve created here, that, in most of the U.S., suburban areas lean Republican.  Let’s take Dallas for example.  While Dallas County is certainly blue, it might be an oversimplification to just say that “Dallas is blue.”  If, when you say “Dallas,” what you really mean is the Dallas metropolitan area, that is.  With over half of Americans living in suburbs, referring to a city by name these days, more often than not, refers to the central city and its suburbs.  Blue Dallas County, while the core county of the Dallas metropolitan area, only constitutes 36% of its population.  Neighboring Tarrant County (home to Forth Worth) and all of the suburban counties surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth are red.  So… is Dallas really “blue?”  The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area certainly isn’t.  The same pattern shows up all over the country (with the notable exception of the West Coast).
What we find is that the Republican heartland, contrary to what some on both sides of the aisle would have you believe, is not the farmland and wilderness of the American interior.  It is not even necessarily the Rust Belt and Coal Country.  Rather, it is in suburbs and mid-sized cities.  Hopefully this map provides a unique perspective of where voters actually live and how they vote.
*Notes:  ‘Voter Density’ is the number of votes cast (for any candidate) per square mile.  Election data comes from [Townhall.com](https://townhall.com/election/2016/president/) and [RRH Elections](https://rrhelections.com/index.php/2018/02/02/alaska-results-by-county-equivalent-1960-2016/).

Largest Racial/Ethnic Group by County, Relative to Entire United States Population

This map is a little tricky to explain succinctly, so bear with me.  What is being shown is the racial/ethnic group in each county that is most disproportionate to the makeup of the United States.

For example, my home of Travis County, Texas, is 50% White, 34% Hispanic, 8% Black, 6% Asian-Pacific Islander and 0% Native American.  The United States as a whole is 62% White, 17% Hispanic, 12% Black, 5% Asian-Pacific Islander and 1% Native American.  While Travis County is less White, Black and Native American than the US as a whole, it has a higher share of Hispanic and Asian-Pacific Islander residents.

The share of the population which is Hispanic is 2.8x that of the US, and the Asian-Pacific Islander population is 1.2x.  Therefore, Travis County is shown on this map as Hispanic, even though Whites constitute the largest racial/ethnic group within the county.