One hundred seventy-five million years ago, Earth had one super continent – Pangaea. Enormous tectonic forces broke this landmass into the continents of our time.
A new supercontinent has been formed in American politics. Trumpangaea: A continent that has elected Donald Trump contrary to the expectations of political insiders, commentators, and pollsters.
Hillary Clinton secured more popular votes than Donald Trump, and for the fifth time, the presidency was won by the loser of the popular vote. Clinton lost the Electoral College because her voters are “inefficiently distributed.” State-level election maps fail to convey the concentration of Clinton’s votes. This inefficient distribution becomes apparent when vote data is shown at the county level. The counties carried by Clinton, when mapped alone, take on the appearance of an archipelago: The Clintopelago.
By comparison, the nearly entirely contiguous Trumpagaea:
Aside from natural islands, Trumpangaea has only a handful of non-contiguous parcels: Maine & New Hampshire (presumably cut off by Bernie Sanders lines of contravallation); three Conn. and Rhode Is. counties; E. Long Is.; Vicksburg, Miss.: Clallam Co., Wa.; S. western shore of Maryland, and three islands made from parts of New Jersey.
A continent divided
Clinton carried the popular vote in 489 counties in the contiguous 48 states compared to 2,622 for Trump. Alaska and Hawaii are unfairly omitted from this analysis with my apologies . Trump won every county in two states in the lower 48: Oklahoma and West Virginia. Clinton did not carry all counties in a single state in the lower 48 (she lost Essex Co., Vermont by 487 votes out of about 2,925 cast. Clinton did win all four counties in Hawaii.
The US Census tracks detailed demographic data for over 3,200 counties. This data allows for comparisons of the communities in both Trumpangaea and The Clintopelago. Vote totals used below are taken from Dave Liep’s massive data collection project at the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (http://uselectionatlas.org/). The county breakdown was generated by disregarding third-party candidates and looking only at the Clinton and Trump vote totals.
|Counties (lower 48)||2,622||489|
|Trump Vote Percent||64.75%||35.17%|
|Clinton Vote Percent||35.25%||64.83%|
|Land Area (sq. mi.)||2,450,659||510,747|
|Density (pop/sq. mi)||58.16||339.22|
Note: Excludes Alaska and Hawaii for unjust reasons .
Note the nearly identical polarization between these two areas. Trump carried Trumpangaea by a margin (64.75 – 32.25), almost identical to the margin by which Clinton carried The Clintopelago (64.83 – 35.17).
There are 30.75 million more people in The Clintopelago in an area a fifth the size of Trumpangaea, resulting in a population density six times higher. The Clintopelago is a little smaller than California, Texas, and Oregon combined. If independent, it would be the 19th largest country in the world between Peru and Mongolia. Trumpangaea would be #7, between Australia and India. Remember, this excludes Alaska (yuge) and Hawaii.
In population, the U.S.A. ranks #3 (way) behind China and India. Trumpangaea would come in at #10 between Russia and Mexico, while The Clintopelago would be #8 between Nigeria and Bangladesh.
Trump voters were regularly classed as “less educated” in election coverage while Clinton voters were highlighted as more likely to be college educated. The college and non-college degree differences were reflected in the population of the counties carried by Trump and Clinton.
|Highest education level reached||Trumpangaea||The Clintopelago|
|Post Graduate Degree||8.48%||13.56%|
However, a higher percentage of residents in Trumpangaea had associates degrees, and similar percentages of Trumpangeans and Clintopelagans had some college under the belts.
Clintopelagans are more likely to start and to finish college degrees. The percentage of high school diplomas is lower in The Clintopelago because more high school graduates go on to complete college degrees. The differences between the two areas for those with high school diplomas and some college (Trump +10.23) is almost identical to the difference in college degree rates (Clinton +9.28). About 1% more Clintopelagans fail to graduate from high school.
|Highest education level reached||Trumpangaea||The Clintopelago|
|Less than 9th grade||4.79%||6.50%|
|Some High School||8.05%||7.29%|
|High School Diploma||32.18%||24.11%|
|Post Graduate Degree||8.48%||13.56%|
“You ain’t from around here, are you?”
A recurrent theme of the Trump campaign was the construction of “The Wall.” Immigration, particularly Latin American and Middle Eastern immigration, were major themes in both campaigns. The Census Bureau provides county-level estimates of non-citizen population in each county. Breaking this down between Trumpangaea and The Clintopelago gives the following:
“Non-citizens” in the Census data should not be equated with “illegal.” They are not the same. The percentage of non-citizens in each county is shown below. West Texas, the Oklahoma panhandle and southwest Kansas have high percentages of non-citizen populations in Trumpangaea.
Though it is not the darkest color on the map (the map reflects percentages of the county), over 10% of the non-citizens in The Clintopelago are in Los Angeles County, California. L.A. voted for Clinton by an incredible 52 points. Clinton took 2.5 million out of the 3.4 million votes cast in Los Angeles County.
The U.S. Census Bureau collects county-level estimates on residents that speak English “very well” as well as selected other language statistics.
|Language proficiency||Trumpangaea||The Clintopelago|
|Speaks English “very well”||95.90%||87.73%|
Note: Obviously wont sum to 100% due to bilingual speakers
A full twelve percent of Clintopelagans cannot speak English “very well” compared to 4% of Trumpangaeans. The percentage of Spanish speakers (which includes bilingual speakers) is show below by county.
A final tidbit for this post: unemployment. These statistics are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics October 2016 data on labor force size and unemployment by county.
|Employment (Oct. 2016)||Trumpangaea||The Clintopelago|
Given the campaign narrative you would be forgiven for expecting a higher unemployment rate in Trumpangaea. They are almost identical rates, with only 7 hundredths separating them.
Here, the issue is not the level of unemployment, but the efficient distribution of unemployment. Trumpangaea’s unemployment was present in states that Trump used to break the Democratic Blue Wall such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
Unemployment in The Clintopelago was high in states Clinton was going to lose anyway, such as in the southern Black Belt, the Rio Grande Valley, and in parts of California and Illinois, where Clinton was sure to win. Unemployment in rural areas along the Pacific Coast were also high, but areas won by Trump in those “Blue” states was more than offset by urban votes. New Mexico shows prominently in The Clintopelago map: Clinton won New Mexico by 8.5 points over Trump, it is the state where Libertarian (and former New Mexico Governor) Gary Johnson drew his highest vote share with 9.3% of the vote.
- Vote totals: Leip, Dave, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections; download of 2016 votes by county. Accessed 2016-12-26
- Population: US Census; B01003 – TOTAL POPULATION/U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
- Area: Calculated from US Census 5m county shapefile: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/cbf/cbf_counties.html; uses land, and not water area values
- Education: US Census; S1501 – EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
- Language: US Census; S1601 – LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME/Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
- Employment: Bureau of Labor Statistics; https://www.bls.gov/lau/#cntyaa; https://www.bls.gov/web/metro/laucntycur14.txt – Labor force data by county, not seasonally adjusted, latest 14 months, using the Oct 2016 value
 Alaska and Hawaii were omitted for three reasons (two of which may be mere stylistic excuses):
(1) Alaska is YUGE. It would have distorted some of the analysis in this document. Alaska is, for the record, bigger than North Carolina, New York, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine, South Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined. Going the other way, it is larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined, and you would still have room in the jar to throw in Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut.
Alaska also does not really have counties. Instead, it has boroughs. And not all of Alaska is contained in a borough. Those portions not in a borough are in the aptly named Unorganized Borough. The Unorganized Borough weighs in at an incredible 323,440 sq. mi. That’s Texas plus Georgia and Connecticut, or roughly Pakistan. Given this ridiculous size, the US Census Bureau and the State of Alaska divided the Unorganized Borough into census areas. The largest, Yukon–Koyukuk Census Area, is 147,805 sq. mi. with fewer than 6,000 residents. Yukon-Koyukuk is bigger than Montana, or as Wikipedia points out: the entire country of Germany. Suffice to say: Alaska is really, really large;
(2) Better, but less smart-ish, is that county level data for Alaksa is not yet available, and
(3) I love Hawaii; it is my favorite U.S. State to visit. But adding an archipelago to the map of an archipelago, would have unfairly reinforced the concept of the Clintopelago as an archipelago (and required an unsexy map insert).
Sorry. Pineapple putsches and cheap real estate deals have left you guys with the mapping shaft for too long and I am sorry to perpetuate that. In the bonus column: You haven’t had lunch yet as I write this. So you have that going for you. Which is nice.
 For another interesting take on this, see Nate Silver, Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump, FiveThirtyEight.com, Nov. 22, 2016. I write from Arlington County, Virginia. Those numbers are ridiculous. 72% have a degree and I’m still the most entertaining person at a cocktail party?!?! All y’alls paid too much for your education!
 I’m exaggerating: Kansans don’t actually use that all-inclusive second person plural pronoun.
 There is a large margin of error in these estimates – a mean margin of error of around +/-45% is listed in the data… The total tracks the talking points, but the county level data should be interpreted cautiously.
 These are monthly, non-seasonally adjusted numbers. There are probably more valid ways to do this and it underrates shifts in employment over time leading up to the election as opinions were formed.
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