So the sting (or afterglow, depending on whom you ask) of last week’s midterm elections is wearing off. Time to step back and get some perspective on the matter. Like, say, a century’s worth: Matthew Ericson, deputy graphics director at the New York Times, found these amazing olde tyme election results maps.
This one, the oldest he could find, hit the front page in 1896 to report “how all the states in the union have cast their electoral votes, those which have gone for McKinley being in white and those for Bryan in black.”
The Times whipped these nationwide results together in time for the Wednesday edition, which is impressive considering it was 18-freaking-96.
By 1904, the Times was publishing “much less crude” election results maps. Ericson notes such 20th-century upgrades as cross-hatching and a map key:
But Ericson’s favorite cartographic-journalistic innovation comes in 1916, when the Times unveiled — wait for it — the “doubtful” states.
Sure, these days we have interactive election maps updated every nanosecond via magical transmissions through a series of tubes. But labeling entire swathes of the nation “doubtful”? That’s real genius.