What’s different about this map?

Four years ago, I built a tool called Redraw the States to ask a simple question: How few counties would you need to move from one state to a neighboring state to change the outcome of the Presidential election. The answer turned out to be three. But in exploring these quirks of American political geography, I found lots of other little oddities as well.

Much has been made over the past month of the Electoral College. Its members, argues basically every Constitutional scholar, are free to choose whomsoever they wish for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, subject only to a few requirements outlined in the Constitution. They point to the literal words of the Constitution, which, indeed, place no restrictions on the Electors’ choices. …

Last week, I debuted a tool called Redraw the States, which allowed users to rearrange U.S. counties into different states and see what would happen to the Electoral College vote. In the post debuting the tool, I offered a few examples of maps which would have flipped the result of the election but, either, made imperceptible changes to the map, or involved moving only three counties from one state to a neighboring state.

Three counties move: Lake IL -> WI, Lucas (Toledo) OH -> MI, and Camden NJ -> PA. Clinton wins 279 to 259. Blue means Clinton wins the state. Red means Trump. Deeper colors mean a bigger win.

In the week since, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, including a nice article in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog and another nice one in Daily Kos Elections

What’s wrong with this map?

Can you tell what’s wrong with this map of the United States? I’ll give you a hint: Look near the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Spot the problem yet? A further hint: Look at the border of Wisconsin and Illinois as well as the Florida Panhandle. See it now? The Wisconsin-Illinois border is slightly more southern and the Florida Panhandle is slightly shorter.

Kevin Hayes Wilson

Farmer by upbringing. Mathematician by training. Data scientist by profession. Yeller at clouds.

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