Politics and Geography

Because this is an election year, things political are constantly in the headlines. We hear about, and even discuss, issues related to political candidates. But most citizens don’t understand that politics and campaigning are very geographic. We hear about “swing” states, “blue” and “red” states, “flyover” states, and we see maps of states showing areas dominated by the Republican and Democratic candidates. Geography helps us understand why “swing” states exist and why a state is either “red” or “blue” or why one area of a state leans Republican and not Democratic. Occupation, age, place of residence, being rural or urban, religious affiliation, income, ethnicity, and gender, among other factors, play a significant role in creating the political map of a place. Only when we understand the character of a place – its geography – can we explain why places vary politically. A geographically literate person can better understand the political landscape that appears chaotic, but is not. BG

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