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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

The Bulletin—November 15, 2012

Emory University
Emory University
Published November 15, 2012

The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • The 2012 United States presidential election results have led mapmakers and illustrators over the past week to search for new ways to visualize the geography of political power. Mark Newman, Paul Dirac Collegiate Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, released a series of maps and cartograms depicting the state- and county-level results of the presidential election between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama scaled by population density. Illustrator Chris Howard designed another map which overlays county-by-county election results with population density data as recorded in the 2010 census. This image, which depicts the electoral power of densely populated areas without distorting the shapes of the counties, provoked analysis, as in this piece by Sommer Mathis writing in The Atlantic Cities, about the importance of cities in deciding the election. Metropolitan areas in the US South and elsewhere in the interior appear on the map as dense blue dots surrounded by rings of pink. The map illustrates how elections are decided on an urban/suburban basis, as Lydia DePillis argued in The New Republic. This distribution of political power is a consequence of the demographic shifts in cities like Atlanta since the Second World War, a topic discussed by Kevin Kruse in his 2005 Southern Spaces presentation "White Flight: The Strategies, Ideology, and Legacy of Segregationists in Atlanta."
  • Post-election conversation has also focused on the continued dominance of the Republican Party in the US South. In The New York Times, Campbell Robertson argued that the Republican coalition that has been characterized as a shrinking proportion of the population across much of the country remains dominant in a number of southern states. Remarking on the similar results of the 2008 presidential election in his Southern Spaces piece "The US South and the 2008 Election," Joseph Crespino tied rhetoric about Republican political dominance in the US South to the rise of the Sun Belt and noted that populations in several southern states voted in favor of Obama. Crespino's analysis remains a useful reminder that the US South is a heterogenous section of the country.