Infographics of the Day: Incredible Election Maps Reveal a Country Divided… 100 Years Ago

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.

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.

[Read more at Matthew Ericson’s blog]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.

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