McCain Really Wants PA, and Other Interesting Facts About Pennsylvania and the Electoral College

For some reason, John McCain wants Pennsylvania really freaking badly. Bush lost the state, which has 21 electoral votes (out of a total 538 electoral votes in the nation), by only about 2%. So even though PA has voted Democrat in the past 4 elections, it isn’t definitely going Obama on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania is tied with Illinois for 5th most electoral votes in the nation (only California, Texas, New York, and Florida have more). So of the 6 most populous states, Democrats hold 4 of them.

Pennsylvania is, like the country as a whole, bordered on it’s east and west by Democratic strongholds, filled with a wholesome batch of gooey Republican center. The state has a population of around 12.4 million people. Philadelphia’s metropolitan area accounts for approximately 5.8 million and Pittsburgh’s metropolitan area is 2.5 million. So, if you’re counting, that’s about 2 city slickers for every country bumpkin. Those are pretty decent odds.

If you look at a geographical map of the United States which displays Republican won states in red and Democratic states in blue, you will see a country that very much looks, at first glance, to be very red. The entire middle and all of the South are red. Have a look at the following map of the 2004 election to see what I mean:

Map of the United States as representative of the 2004 electoral college

Now if you look at a cartogram (in this case, a cartogram is basically a map of the US where instead of showing the states as large as their actual land mass, we show them in terms of population) of the same election, the blue and red don’t look all that much different.

Cartogram of the United States as representative of votes placed by the 2004 electoral college

This is because city’s and places of high population (you know, where things like schools, colleges and institutes of higher learning are available) tend to vote Democratic, while regions of the country where cattle are more populous than humans tend to swing Republican.

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