Do you know this image? I made it. Here’s why.
A few days ago I was discussing another map with friends, comparing how white people and people of color tend to vote.
One of my friends wondered what the maps would look like if it were split between white men and and white women. So, using the same methodology as above, I went to 538’s “How to Swing the Election.”
I moved some toggles, plugged my results into 270towin, posted, and felt pleased with what I considered an obvious visual point in the context of the conversation:
White men aren’t the only ones to blame for the rise of Trumpism.
Here’s that image, modified in a way that everyone in that conversation has agreed to:
The next day I played with the 538 toggles a bit more, did a quick search to see if there was anything else I could include (POC split by college education? LGBTQ vs Hetero/Cis people?), put the images together and posted the resulting graphs to my own Facebook page. Full disclosure: Though I’ve followed the polls pretty closely (and even conducted an Independent survey of 1200+ third party voters earlier this season), I didn’t double check the data. I trust 538’s methodology to be reasonably close. If you don’t then this graph isn’t for you.
One of my big regrets is that I didn’t include sources directly on the image. By the time it went public I did write some accompanying text with attribution, but I didn’t put it on the image because I didn’t think more than a dozen people with whom I regularly discuss politics would be interested. I apologize, that was careless.
Here’s that original map, unaltered except that I’ve added sources to it:
And then it went viral and my new day job was fielding comments about racism, sexism, and this election. As a white person I’ve been privileged to not have that job so explicitly before. I was still adjusting to that reality when I noticed it was posted by some as “shocking proof” that the election is rigged and… that’s when I decided I needed to respond and say a few things:
- Hi, I made the map. It was me, Ste Kinney-Fields. It wasn’t Nate Silver, though the 538 team did put the data out there to make it possible. Thanks, 538 team!
- My original point was that white men are not the only people who are responsible for Trumpism.
- Likewise, and I can’t believe I need to spell this out, not all “white men” are directly responsible for Trumpism. Trump, Trump supporters, and the Republican party that created the environment that allowed him to rise are the ones responsible for Trumpism, regardless of their demographics. But the demographics are still notable and in keeping with Trump’s rhetoric.
- When I look at this image, one thing I think is: “we have so far to go toward racial equality.” Apparently when the recently re-branded white supremacists/”alt-right” looks at this image they think, “letting people of color vote is inherently rigging the system against white people.” That is horrifying. Do not let people with that kind of opinion tell you that they love this country and its Constitution because they clearly do not love the preamble, Article II section 1 (which is admittedly difficult to love), the 15th amendment, or the 19th.
- I firmly believe that literally everyone, regardless of who they are voting for, needs to deal with the bias showing up in this election. That isn’t just racism and sexism but also bias against people who are/n’t educated, are queer, are of any religious group, etc. Sometimes we have to deal with it because we have no other choice (ex: as a queer person I have to deal with all the anti-queer rhetoric in this election season, particularly the Republican primary). Other times we have to deal with it because we really need to do our part to help this country heal (ex: as a white person, I need to deal with my internalized racial biases, as well as help other white people deal with theirs so that people of color do not have to be the only people shouldering that burden).
- There’s a lot of evidence that voting for Trump is correlated with racism and you can find that for yourself if you’re motivated. I won’t debate it with you. However, if you are a white person then a vote for Clinton (Or Stein, Johnson, McMullin, La Riva, Kennedy, Moorehead, or…) does not mean you are in the clear and that you don’t have any work to do.
- I absolutely do not condone the disenfranchisement of any group. People I disagree with have the right to vote. It is my job as a citizen to do my best at debating in a civil fashion and get out the vote.
- It is pretty clear from these maps that Republicans and/or Trump supporters, which aren’t exactly the same, have a vested interest in suppressing the votes of people of color.
- Groups aren’t homogenous. Maps like this, as well as the electoral college system in general, make it seem like they are. If you need it, this is a gentle reminder that there are people of every political persuasion in every state. Color of skin is not the same as someone’s interpretation of the Constitution. People of any gender can vote for any candidate. These maps depict tendencies and trends, only.
- This map is explicitly about the electoral college in a Clinton vs. Trump election, not a generic Republican vs. Democrat election. (Yes, I know there are other people running but they don’t show up in any of these maps because they are unlikely to get any electoral votes.) ETA: 538’s data is extrapolated from the Obama/Romney election.
- Data is beautiful but visualizations aren’t value neutral. If your data is about race and gender in America, then it is important to take the opportunity to frame the data in explicitly anti-sexist and anti-racist terms. My visualization was used by white supremacists in part because I didn’t do that. I don’t know that there’s anything that would stop them from using this kind of data for their racist gain but it does suck to have my work used that way. I wish I had made the post explicitly anti-racist to begin with. I didn’t and I will continue to deal with that.
- Thanks for re-posting my image. My hope is that it fueled a lot of conversation about disenfranchisement and voter suppression laws, sexism, toxic masculinity (other masculinities are possible), racism, whiteness, the role of education in society, how we’re going to heal after Trumpism, etc. And I would really love to hear what (if any) good has come from it.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing.
Now, please get out and vote against white supremacy in this election…and then continue the work after November 8.