2000 Election County by County

Brad DeLong offers a “real” map of the 2000 presidential election showing that we’re not as divided as advertised because Bush and Gore both got votes virtually everywhere.

While this is true in one sense, it overstates our unity even more than the simple map based on the Electoral College vote overstates our division. The more accurate depiction is the county-by-county map shown here:

We had a very close election in which Al Gore got quite a few more votes than George Bush. But there is a legitimate rural-urban cultural divide that the map illustrates. This superb David Brooks article in the December 2001 Atlantic Monthly gives an excellent analysis of that divide.

(Hat tip: Ogged)

Update (1254): This rather gigantic county-by-county map is something of a compromise between “my” map and Brad’s: It differentiates between close counts and runaways.

Update (1621): Ogged adds a link the “the best map so far” to his post. It’s a good one, I must admit. Indeed, it combines the purple quality of Brad’s map with the geographical qualities I was pointing to quite nicely.

Update (1228 7-30): Quinn has yet another variant of the map, which varies the colors based on population density rather than voting strength.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ogged says:

    This is very cool. Where did you find this?

  2. James Joyner says:


    Good question! I don’ remember; it’s something I came across right after the election and used to use in my American Govt. Class. It’s on my old school website in slightly bigger form.

  3. James Joyner says:

    But I just found several of them by Googling [“county by county” 2000. Here’s one.

  4. ogged says:

    Thanks. I love the “square miles of counties won” at that last link.

  5. John says:

    Yea, rocks and trees are a big voter block.

  6. Rodney Dill says:

    This does help to demonstrate why the electoral college is important for States Rights. If not for the electoral college there is even more incentive for politicians to cater to the demands/desires of the high population centers and ignore the rest. With the Electoral college you try to win only a majority at each area, then focus attention to other areas. This at least in theory allows for each area (state) to get more positive attention from the gov’t.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Heh. It’s interesting. Honestly, I thought that if we ever had an Electoral College/majority vote disparity in a modern election, we’d overturn the system. But the outrage was very short lived.

    Our system was predicated on state sovereignty, in which context the EC makes perfect sense. But sovereignty has been a fiction for decades now, making it seem rather archaic.

  8. Brad DeLong says:


    This is a red-blue county map, not a purple one. The urban-rural divide is real, just as the California-Texas divide is real, but they are all shades of purple.

    I don’t have the vote percentages by county or the mapmaking software to make the county-by-county map in purple. Does anyone?

  9. Hal Varian says:

    Take a look at
    where you can zero in on your neighborhood. (Although it is based on campaign contributions,
    not actual votes.)

  10. James Joyner says:


    Sorry–didn’t mean to imply that my map was purple. I think your point that it’s not black and white (red and blue) is valuable; but it’s also worth noting the geographic pattern of the outcomes. Both tell us something. We’re not on the verge of another civil war, but neither are we a monolith.

    And sorry about the multiple trackbacks on this post as I was editing. I hate it when it does that!

  11. John says:

    I just think it’s funny that people seem to be overjoyed at the prospect of winning yet another technical victory with the minority of the votes. Something to be darn proud of.

  12. James Joyner says:


    I don’t think things will repeat themselves in 2004. Bush will either win fairly handily or he’ll lose.

    Secondly, I don’t think it was a technical victory. In close contests, weird things happen. It’s not unusual for a football team to accumulate more yardage and still lose. Or a baseball team to outscore its opponent over the course of a World Series and still lose the series.

  13. John says:

    We’ll see about the election and how close it is. Who knows. But usually when someone wins a very, very close game they are usually a bit more humbled than what seems to be happening. If it is a really close win, with a technical victory of the electoral college and a minority of the popular vote… Well, I don’t really expect anyone to be humble, but I sure would be. And I do find it a bit odd that people seem to be spending so much time showing how many rocks and trees voted for Bush when in fact they really aren’t registered voters. Granted, it’s a nice representation of what the electoral college does, but it’s not something to really be proud of. And I even agree with the function of the electoral college… I just think that when you’re splitting hairs and focusing on moving .001% of the population that perhaps you have the wrong strategy – i.e. one of magnifying political divisiveness, rather than appealing to the majority.

  14. James Joyner says:


    I’ve added a new post on this topic. On the one hand, I’d agree on the issue of humility. On the other, one must govern. And teams that win championships narrowly usually say nice things about their opponent–which Bush did–and then go off and buy the same size championship ring they would have in a blowout. Ultimately, the outcome trumps the process. In a presidential race–unlike, say, a parliamentary one–it’s either 100% win or 100% lose.

  15. ogged says:

    Brad, this is pretty close to what you’re looking for.


    the site at http://www.nationalatlas.gov/electionsprint.html is very cool.

  16. Toni says:

    I read the article by David Brooks. Considering that I live in flyover land (MN-western suburb of Mpls, this article was a condescending delusional piece of trash. Am I surprised – No. The fact that you think this is an excellent commentary was surprising though.

  17. James Joyner says:


    I’ve lived most of my life in flyover land, although I moved to the DC exurbs eleven months ago. I found most of Brooks’ points to be valid.

  18. Woody Allen isn’t funny. Seinfeld was never popular in the South, for example. Conversely, Walker Texas Ranger was never popular in the big metro areas.
  19. Money. You can’t buy a $20 lunch in most of the country. That’s probably a good thing. It’s inconceivable outside a handful of metro areas that anyone who isn’t fabulously rich would pay $1500 a month for rent. I’m doing it now.
  20. There isn’t a Super Wal-Mart within 70 miles of me. The nearest one is in West Virgina. I miss Super Wal-Mart.
  21. People in metro areas don’t know much about the military or agriculture.
  22. In metro areas, men dress in expensive suits. In rural areas, even white collar workers tend to dress rather poorly–and get suspicious of people dressed in suits that cost more than $200.