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The Vermont Paradox: A Left-Wing State with a Remarkably Popular Republican Governor

By Martin W. Lewis | December 9, 2022 |

Historically, Vermont was one of the most Republican-voting states in the union. In 1936 it was one of only two states (along with Maine) to favor Alf Landon over Franklin D. Roosevelt, and did so decisively. But since 1988, Vermont has voted for Democratic presidential candidates. It is now by some measures the country’s most left-wing state. In 2020, Vermont …

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The 2022 Republican Losses in Pennsylvania and Michigan

By Martin W. Lewis | December 7, 2022 |

By the 1990s, Pennsylvania and Michigan had become solidly Democratic states in national elections, key blocks in the so-called Blue Wall stretching across the northeastern quadrant of the country. In 2016, however, both states swung to Republican Donald Trump, albeit by very narrow margins. In the 2022 two midterm election, both states returned to the blue camp, with Democratic candidates outperforming expectations. In all likelihood, Michigan and Pennsylvania will be critical states in the 2024 President presidential election.

Mixed Election Returns in Arizona: The Trump Effect?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 3, 2022 |

The take-home message of the 2022 Arizona election is that close association with Donald Trump, along with a reputation for extremism, often proves harmful for Republican candidates. In the Arizona U.S. House contest, the Republican candidates received 56.4 percent of the vote statewide, whereas the Republican Senate candidate received only 46.5 percent. These are striking numbers.

Geographical Patterns in the 2022 Election, Part 1, The North-Central United States

By Martin W. Lewis | December 2, 2022 |

As can be seen on the first map below, the Democratic Party thus established “trifecta” control in Minnesota, just as it did in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maryland. But the metropolitan/non-metropolitan divide continues to deepen, as can be seen in maps of the Minnesota State House of Representatives. In 2022, the Democrats triumphed here because they dominated the vote in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan region. Peripheral Minnesota, on the other hand, is almost entirely red. Even the mining country of the northeast, historically one of the most solid Democratic strongholds in the country, supported Republican candidates in the 2022 state legislative elections.

The Paradoxical Position of Bahia in the Brazilian National Imagination

By Martin W. Lewis | November 30, 2022 |

But the position of Bahia in Brazil’s national imagination is more complicated still. The state is also celebrated for many of its cultural practices that have spread to the rest of the country, centered on music, dance, religion, and cuisine. Such Afro-Brazilian cultural features as samba, candomblé, and capoeira are associated with Bahia but are now often viewed as essential aspects of Brazil itself. On the map of Brazilian regional stereotypes, Bahia is also noted as the land of samba. Many writers have remarked on Bahia’s paradoxical position

Racial and Regional Voting Patterns in Brazil’s 2022 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | November 25, 2022 |

Almost all of the districts in northeastern Brazil that supported Bolsonaro in 2022 are in the coastal area of Alagoas, a mostly pardo (or mixed race) area. Deeply entrenched patron-client relationships, in which local elites influence the voting patterns of non-elites, might explain this seemingly anomalous pattern.

Voting Patterns in the 2022 Election in Brazil’s Cerrado Region

By Martin W. Lewis | November 22, 2022 |

Although some areas in the northeastern Cerrado have become major centers of soybean farming, relatively few people are employed on the mechanized farms and low levels of income remain widespread, as can be seen on the second set of maps posted below. As a result, there is relatively little correlation between voting patterns and agricultural production zones in this part of Brazil, as can be seen on the second set of maps below (the areas outlined in white on the electoral map have Brazil’s highest soybean yields).

Amazonian Deforestation, Support for Bolsonaro, and the Roraima Mystery

By Martin W. Lewis | November 17, 2022 |

In the 2022 Brazilian presidential election, the Amazonian region was strikingly divided, as is clearly visible on the Globo map posted below. (I have added an oval and two terms on the map to mark Roraima and the Amazonian region.) Most municipalities (similar to U.S. counties) here strongly supported one candidate or the other. Bolsonaro’s zone of support lies to …

Brazil’s Stark Electoral Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | November 11, 2022 |

As a general rule, the poorer states of Brazil’s northeast support candidates on the left while the richer states of the south support candidates on the right. This pattern can be seen on maps comparing the 2022 election results with those showing per capita GDP by state and the Human Development Index (HDI) by state. Some exceptions exist, such as relatively poor but right-voting states of Acre (“AC”) and Amapá (“AP”), and relatively wealthy but left-voting Minas Gerais, but the general pattern is clear.

Brazil’s Lack of a Metropolitan/Hinterland Political Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | November 9, 2022 |

Bolsonaro triumphed in more than half of Brazilian cities with populations of more than one million. As a map from the same article shows, Brazil’s “hubs” do not stand out from their “heartlands” in regard to electoral geography. A Portuguese-language graphic from Nexo shows that Bolsonaro won more than half of the capital cities of Brazil’s states. In the northeastern state of Alagoas, where Lula took 58.7 percent of the vote, Maceió, the capital city and largest urban center, went for Bolsanaro.

Peter Zeihan’s Bizarre Map of China

By Martin W. Lewis | November 7, 2022 |

Consider, for example, the map of China posted here and used in a video with the grandiose title “The Complete Breakdown of China Will Shock the Entire World” (done with George Friedman). What Zeihan and Friedman have apparently done is to take a semi-transparent map of China and crudely overlay it on a satellite-based image of east-central Eurasia. As the world is projected differently in the China map and in the satellite image, the fit is extremely poor. As a result, much of Tibet is portrayed as if it were not part of China, whereas large areas of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and other countries are depicted as parts of China.

Pentecostalism, Fermented Milk, and Coffee in Ethiopia’s Sidama Region

By Martin W. Lewis | November 3, 2022 |

Christianization of the Sidama people was a complicated process involving several missionary groups. It seems that the region’s different Protestant denominations have recently converged on the highly emotional (or spiritual) mode of worship associated with Pentecostalism

Religion, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia and Eritrea

By Martin W. Lewis | November 1, 2022 |

Most actual assessments, however, find that Eritrea is roughly half Muslim and half Christians, although some sources claim that the country is roughly two-thirds Christian, with almost 58 percent of its people adhering to the Oriental Orthodox Tewahedo Church. But nothing is clear about Eritrean demography; figures for the country’s total population range from 3.6 to 6.7 million.

Famine in Ethiopia and the Enset Solution in the Southern Highlands

By Martin W. Lewis | October 28, 2022 |

The people of the northern and central highlands subsist largely on grain, which is highly vulnerable to dry weather during the growing season. Those of the southern highlands, in contrast, subsist largely on enset, which is far more resilient. This crop, unique to Ethiopia, is a close relative of bananas and plantains.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity is NOT Eastern Orthodox, But It Did Influence Protestantism

By Martin W. Lewis | October 27, 2022 |

Arguably, the Tewahedo Church has closer ties with Protestant Christianity, especially Lutheranism, than it does with Eastern Orthodoxy. As the figure posted below shows, Martin Luther was influenced by Ethiopian Christianity, arguing that it adhered more closely to the original teachings than did Roman Catholicism.

The Ethnic Roots of the War in Ethiopia and the Paradox of Tigrayan Ethnic Identity

By Martin W. Lewis | October 26, 2022 |

Despite such cross-border ethnic ties, in the current conflict Eritrea is closely allied with the Ethiopian government against Ethiopia’s Tigrinya-speaking population. Eritrea has militarily occupied a small slice of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region and has reportedly attacked local people with brutality. No evidence of any pan-Tigrinya-speaking ethnic solidarity is readily available.