Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

YEAR OF THE MAP

Electoral Rorschach

Political reality is in the eye of the beholder

November 21, 2004

In a world where everything is spin, not even two-dimensional geography is above suspicion.

Remember the "West Wing" episode in which each staff member must spend a day meeting with oddball constituent groups? The group they find most amusingly absurd is Cartographers for Social Equality --that is, until the earnest mapmakers persuade them that the standard world map, created by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569, conveys a dangerously warped, Eurocentric worldview.

In this month's presidential election, electoral maps were everything. They quickly spun out of control. Every conceivable variation on the red/blue state scheme splattered across the blogosphere. Someone cooked up a map showing that former slave states and territories coincide with today's red states. Someone concocted a map that divided the Democrats' "United States of Canada" and Republicans' "Jesusland."

This week a Times obituary noted the passing of Arthur H. Robinson, who in 1963 created what is widely regarded as the "more realistic" elliptical map that those "West Wing" cartographers were pushing -- "the world as it really is," in cartographer-speak. But political reality is in the eye of the beholder, as shown by these images at University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Complex Systems website: www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/ election/.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|