There are no red states or blue states. There are purple states. Mauve states. Violet states. You've probably seen maps that depict America's blended political landscape before ("we are not that divided" writes Jesus Diaz over at Gizmodo), but odds are you've never seen one quite like this. It was created by datavizualization expert John Nelson, and it's one of the most information-rich political election maps we've come across yet.
In an email to io9, Nelson describes his map as "a pointillist look at the 2012 election results, which does a fairer job of illustrating where, how many, and how people voted in the election than the more typical full-color generalization."
Nelson says that traditional red/blue political maps tend to be biased in favor of geographically large but population-light areas. By mapping data at the county level at a resolution of 100 votes per dot, the resulting colorization paints a much clearer portrait of the thoroughly mixed American political landscape. And unlike other maps that seek to portray the states in all their purple/violet/mauve/bluish-red variations (instead of just red or blue), this one does a great job of illustrating population density, as well (note, for example, the marked difference in population density as you scan the map westward from the East Coast, or the distribution of voters in Florida, seen in the closeup below). It's really great work. [Click here for a very, very hi-res version of the map.]
"I was inspired by a style used recently by a previous advisor of mine, Kirk Goldsberry," says Nelson, "who used incredibly dense dot density maps (nothing new about dot density maps) to illustrate the ethnic and political variations in a couple suburban Texas locations." (Those interested in Goldsberry's maps can find links on Nelson's blog.) "This," Nelson says, "in conjunction with seeing so many horrible cartograms and pseudo-extruded county maps, and even vanilla solid-color maps that miss the boat on variations in population density," inspired him to create the map you see here.