Frequently asked questions

  1. Can you make a map with such-and-such a color scheme? We're really busy so we're probably not going to be making many more maps. However, you can easily make maps with other color schemes yourself. It is a trivial matter to take the purple maps, separate out the blue and red channels, and then remap them any way you like. This is just a couple of clicks in Photoshop. (In fact, we used the excellent free Photoshop clone Gimp for our image manipulation, which does the job very well. You can download it from here.)

  2. Can you make a map showing such-and-such data? Many people have asked for maps showing votes in previous elections, number of people who voted, number of registered voters, differences between Bush and Kerry votes, and all sorts of other things. Once again, we are probably too busy to do this, but we certainly encourage others to make such maps. Our software for creating the cartograms is freely available for download here. The election data for 2004 are available here.

  3. Where are Alaska and Hawaii? Not on the maps. We know. Sorry. There are some technical problems with non-contiguous cartograms and particularly with the highly non-uniform population density in Alaska that make it difficult to produce nice maps. For the special case where the density is uniformly distributed over the state you can make cartograms that look reasonable, and we have done that here. For the more general case of the county-by-county cartogram we need to do more work.

  4. Where can I get high-resolution copies of your figures? You can get them here. Enjoy!

  5. Can I use your figures in my magazine, newspaper, mailing list, web page, artwork, wall hanging, interpretive dance, etc? Absolutely. Our maps and the accompanying text are released under a Creative Commons License that allows for their free distribution and use in derivative works. We would appreciate hearing from you if you wish to make use of our work, but it is not required under the terms of the license.

  6. Have these maps been getting press coverage? Indeed they have. They have appeared in the Washington Post, on CNN Headline News, in The Guardian, and on among other places. You are welcome to put them in your publication as well; see above for the licensing details.
  7. What other work has been done on mapping the election results? Lots. Far too much to mention here. But some that we find interesting include this, this, this, and this. There is a collection of links to various maps, not all of them serious, here.

Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan
Updated: January 23, 2012