This Handy Map Shows Just How Divided We Really Are
There’s Trump’s America and Biden’s America, and here’s where the lines are drawn
The world remains a scary, perilous place and we remain in a period of grave danger. But it is undeniable that whatever your politics, the last two weeks have been so pleasant, so quiet. It turns out not having an attention-famished monster obsessed with authoritarianism and social media in the White House does wonders for the volume dial on the national stereo. There have been whole hours where I have not thought about politics one whit. Eventually, I might even make it a full day. It’s nice.
But the quiet should not provide the illusion that everything is better, that suddenly we have become one nation again, that vast national chasms have been bridged. If you need a reminder, I recommend checking out this time suck that the New York Times dropped on the world on Tuesday:
This project could also probably be called “How to Confirm Most of Your Existing Biases About This Crazy-Ass Country.” The map is very simple; it breaks down, in a granular district-by-district way, which areas of the country voted for Joe Biden and which areas voted for Donald Trump.
And I mean granular. You can type in a state, you can type in a county, you can even type in an address, and it will let you know what percentage of the people in that area voted for Biden and for Trump. The map itself is a vivid reminder of how polarized this country has become.
There are certain states — California and Texas being the biggest ones, as well as Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and parts of Idaho and Florida—that have no voter data yet. The Upshot editors say they’ll be adding it as they get it. The question this data answers is a basic one: What’s Trump country, and what’s Biden country? It might be the signature question of our age.
As we’ve learned over the past five years, these questions have a lot more to do with identity, demographics, and media diet than politics. The map serves less as a window into people’s views on tax policy than it does into “places where you will be welcomed and places you will not.”
A friend of mine, watching the returns come in this year, joked, “So basically, anywhere you’d ever want to go on vacation went for Biden, and everywhere you’d drive through to get there went for Trump.” I’m not sure that’s true. (Clearly, my friend has never been to the Badlands or, for that matter, Hilton Head.) There’s an inherent elitism in that statement that makes this native of farm country Illinois break out in a rash. But then you look at the map and you can almost see where he’s coming from.
The map is also a great way to look back at your life, all the places you’ve been, and maybe it can serve as a reminder of why you left them, or why you can’t go back. Here’s the neighborhood where I grew up in my hometown of Mattoon, Illinois:
I love my hometown and the family I have who still live there. But it’s fair to say I feel more comfortable where I live now:
That said, here’s where I used to live in Brooklyn, in the apartment building where I got engaged, the place where my son was born:
Seriously. You can try everywhere you’ve ever lived.
This is a dangerous game, of course. If we are going to ever be united as one country again, we can’t think of certain areas of the country as acceptable and others as unacceptable, regardless of our political persuasion. That is, after all, how civil wars happen.
But this maps is an incredible snapshot of a moment of American history, where certain areas of the United States are so diametrically opposite of others that they barely exist in the same galaxy, let alone the same country. One can only hope that in four years we are not so far apart. Though for now, I’ll confess, this is a pretty handy tool for planning your next vacation. Or at the very least, where you might want to be careful about stopping for gas along the way.