2020年12月18日 星期五

What a new map tells us about the election

As a former Illinois state senator once said, there's no such thing as red states or blue states.
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By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

A quick note: Starting with the next edition, the newsletter will come to you every Saturday. This is also the last newsletter of the year. I’ll be back in 2021!

I am a big fan of maps, and the best I’ve seen this year comes from Randall Munroe of the web comic “XKCD.” It is a map of the 2020 presidential election results, but not the traditional blue/red Electoral College map, nor is it a county-level map of the United States or even a map that weights the size of each state by its population. Instead, it simply shows where the votes were.

A map of the 2020 presidential election.Randall Munroe

The goal of the map, Munroe says, is to show where voters are. “My map isn’t great for telling at a glance who won a given state,” he explained on Twitter, but it will help answer a “basic question like ‘Where do most Trump voters in Illinois live?’” To that end, each red or blue figure on the map represents 250,000 votes, and they are placed in a way to show where each cluster is located within each state. There are obviously some voters in the white space of the map, but they are few and far between.

I think this way of representing votes makes Munroe’s map still infinitely more useful than the typical election-result map. First of all, it illustrates the basic truth that few people live in the interior of the country, something even the most detailed red/blue maps tend to obscure.


Second of all, Munroe’s illustration of the results shows how talk of secession — of “red states” and “blue states” going their separate ways — is deeply misguided. Every state, every city, every county, every community has Trump voters and Biden voters. Even in my strongly pro-Biden enclave of Charlottesville, Va., thousands of my neighbors voted for President Trump. As Munroe says, ”You can be a Biden voter in a Trump household in a Biden precinct in a Trump county in a Biden district in a Trump state in a Biden country.” Traditional maps leave the false (and dangerous) impression that we are a nation of rival, sorted, easily definable camps. In truth, however, the political geography of the United States is layered, and there’s no easy way to divide the country into partisan camps.

Like many on the left, I think the Republican Party and its voters have turned a blind eye to truly unconscionable behavior by President Trump. After he was elected, I wrote that his supporters would bear some responsibility for the eruption of racism and bigotry that would come and that it was wrong to solicit sympathy on their behalf simply because they disliked the names and labels that came with supporting a racist demagogue.

The thing is, those people aren’t going away (the reverse is also true, for those conservatives who feel similarly about left-leaning Americans). There will be no split. As Munroe’s map shows, we are bound to each other, whether we like it or not. The challenge for the next decade, then, is how do we live together, and more important, how do we govern when even living together is such a challenge?

What I Wrote

It took six weeks for key Senate Republicans to acknowledge reality and congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their win. I wrote about what that might mean for the immediate future of American democracy.


To affirm Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners of the election more than a month after the end of voting — as Mitch McConnell did, on Tuesday morning, when he announced that “our country officially has a president-elect and vice-president elect” — is to treat the outcome as unofficial pending an attempt to overturn the result. In short, Republicans are establishing a new normal for the conduct of elections, one in which a Democratic victory is suspect until proven otherwise, and where Republicans have a “constitutional right” to challenge the vote in hopes of having it thrown out.

Now Reading

Frank Guan on Rage Against the Machine for New York magazine.

McKay Coppins on Mormonism for The Atlantic.

Alissa Wilkinson on the best films of 2020 for Vox.

Tommy Craggs on the unavoidable reality of cultural politics for Mother Jones.

Noreen Malone on how the debate on school reopening has torn one liberal community apart, in Slate magazine.


If you’re enjoying what you’re reading, please consider recommending it to your friends. They can sign up here. If you want to share your thoughts on an item in this week’s newsletter or on the newsletter in general, please email me at jamelle-newsletter@nytimes.com.

Photo of the Week

Kristen Finn

Since this is the last newsletter of 2020, I will leave you with a photo of the family, taken over the summer as part of a “porch portrait” project by a few local photographers. It’s been a difficult year, and we hope that you’ve weathered it as best as possible. Here’s to a happy holiday and a much-improved new year.

Now Eating: Slow-Simmered Field Peas

Like every born-and-bred Southerner, I have a bowl of black-eyed peas and collard greens (with cornbread) to start the new year. This, from Steven Satterfield’s “Root to Leaf,” is my base recipe for the peas. In the likely event you cannot get fresh-shelled field peas, dried black-eyed peas are fine. Just be sure to soak them overnight to speed up cooking. If you’re something of a culinary traditionalist, you could use Sea Island red peas instead of black-eyed peas. Satterfield’s recipe calls for onion, celery and fennel; I like to add a diced jalapeño. And instead of ham or smoked ham hock, I use smoked turkey necks.


  • 4 cups fresh shelled field peas such as black-eyed peas, crowder peas or lady peas
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • ½ cup finely diced fennel bulb
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 thick slice country ham or 1 small piece of smoked ham hock
  • 1 spring fresh thyme


If using fresh peas, place in large pot, cover with water, and agitate them gently. Pull them out in small handfuls and check for blemishes or debris. Set the washed peas aside. If using dried peas, soak for 8 hours, drain and rinse when ready to use.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and fennel; season with a little salt and pepper; and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ham (or turkey neck), peas and thyme, and then add water (or chicken stock, preferably homemade) to cover by 1 inch. Simmer on low heat until the peas are tender, skimming all the while, 45 to 60 minutes.

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