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Articles in North America

The Geography of Iowa’s Republican Shift

By Martin W. Lewis | November 20, 2014 |

As mentioned in the previous post, one of the few parts of the United States in which White-majority rural (or small-city-focused) counties regularly vote for Democrats in national elections is the “greater Upper Mississippi Valley,” as outlined on the map posted here. Across the country more generally, non-metropolitan White-majority “blue” countries are found on the Pacific Cost and in the …

Minnesota and Northern California: Political Twins or Political Opposites?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 17, 2014 |

Two U.S. states that largely bucked the Republican trend in the 2014 election were Minnesota and California, which count among the “bluest” states in the union. Since 1976, only Minnesota has supported the Democratic candidate in every presidential election. California has more recently entered the Democratic fold, having voted for a Republican presidential candidate as recently as 1988, but in …

U.S. Political Party Strength Index Map

By Martin W. Lewis | November 14, 2014 |

As yesterday’s post noted, the United States moved decidedly in the direction of the Republican Party in the November 2014 election. To illustrate the relative strength of the Republican Party at the state level, I have created a “US Party Strength Index Map,” posted here. The methodology is simple. Taking into account the recent election, I awarded one point for …

Does the Red-State/Blue-State Model of U.S. Electoral Politics Still Work?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 13, 2014 |

Since the 2000 election, it has been common to divide the United States into a “Red America” of reliably Republican-voting states and a “Blue America” of reliably Democratic-voting states, a maneuver that highlights the relative scarcity of “purple” or swing states. As can be seen in the Wikipedia map posted to the left, “blue” states are concentrated in the Northeast, …

Gerrymandering in the United States: Crimes Against Geography?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 8, 2014 |

(Note: The next several GeoCurrents posts will examine the 2014 U.S. Midterm Elections)
In my large lecture course on the History and Geography of Current Global Events, I always begin by showing an enigmatic or amusing map with the labels removed. I then ask the class what it represents. Recent examples include a map of the range of fruit bats (for …

The Californian Insular Myth: Follow the Blue Seashells (Adapted from the work of Annick Foucrier)

By Martin W. Lewis | June 21, 2014 | One Comment

(Note:  GeoCurrrents is concerned with all things connected to mapping, including the history of cartography. One particularly interesting and rather mysterious feature of world mapping in the early modern period was the persistent depiction of California as an island. This portrayal is so distinctive is that it has captured the attention of many historians, geographers, and map aficionados. In 2012, …

American Geographical Illiteracy and (Perhaps) the World’s Worst Atlas

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2014 | 22 Comments

GeoCurrents has long been concerned with geographical illiteracy. The depth of ignorance continues to be revealed, most recently in a Washington Post piece that indicates that only 16 percent of Americans can locate Ukraine on a world map. Most distressingly, a significant number of respondents placed Ukraine in central Greenland. Other reports indicate that geographical ignorance is widespread even at …

Tim Draper’s Proposed “Six Californias”

By Martin W. Lewis | January 8, 2014 | 22 Comments

As was noted last October on GeoCurrents, efforts to split U.S. states have been gaining increased attention. Geographer Andrew Shears has made an intriguing map that shows a number of “failed state partition proposals through US history,” posted here. Note that few of the 50 states have never been so challenged. A single map of this type, however, cannot capture …

Unnecessary Environmental Destruction from Marijuana Cultivation in the United States

By Martin W. Lewis | October 22, 2013 | 9 Comments

Over the past several years, the campaign for marijuana legalization has surged ahead in the United States. Colorado and Washington have voted for full legalization, and a number of other states now allow the consumption of medical cannabis. Yet the U.S. federal government still regards the substance as a “Schedule 1” drug, more dangerous and less useful than cocaine or …

State-Level Secession Movements in the United States: Northern Colorado and Jefferson

By Martin W. Lewis | October 9, 2013 | 21 Comments

The intense political polarization of the United States is most clearly reflected by the dysfunctional nature of the federal government. At a more local scale, it is seen as well in the growing movement to create new states by splitting existing ones. Most of these cases involve the desire of people in rural, conservative counties to secede from the more …

The Geography of American Baby Names

By Chris Kremer | August 11, 2012 | 2 Comments

Websites designed to help expectant parents find the perfect baby name abound on the Internet, offering statistics on the most popular names by year and sometimes by country or state. A few sites, such as The Baby Name Wizard and NameTrends.net, even have maps of name popularity past and present for each American state.

French History and Language in the American Midwest

By Nicholas Baldo | July 18, 2012 | 4 Comments

The history of the American Midwest has a French flavor which hasn’t quite vanished.

Mining in Yukon

By Chris Kremer | July 4, 2012 |

Yukon, Canada’s westernmost territory, has few people but generates much mining revenue.

Mapping U.S. Disasters

By Nicholas Baldo | July 1, 2012 | 3 Comments

As recently highlighted on the weblog Per Square Mile, amateur geographer Crystal Dorn has mapped county-level U.S. data on official disasters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and published it as a webGIS. Taking this map at face value, it seems that 54 years has not been enough time for clear patterns to emerge when each county is shaded …

Visualizing California’s Soggy Past

By Nicholas Baldo | June 29, 2012 |

A previous GeoNote highlighted a collaborative effort to map historical changes in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin RiverDelta. In a similar spirit, the fantasy satellite map shown at left, created by Central Valley geographer Mark Clark and noted by Frank Jacobs, imagines what the entire state might have looked like in 1851. Perhaps the map’s most salient feature is massive Tulare Lake, …

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