The Best Color-At-Home Map For Presidential Election Tracking.
We love to follow along at home, but most maps are messy to use. I set out to change that.
When I was in first grade, my teacher sent us home one night with a map of the United States and an assignment to watch the presidential election results on TV. States that voted for Jimmy Carter were to be colored blue, Reagan states colored red. I was too young to really understand what was going on, but it was still great fun.
Most years since then, I’ve repeated the assignment, printing whatever electoral college map template I found online, and doing my best to stay in the lines as I talled the votes. But the worksheet that almost every grade school teacher gives their class is — honestly — not that great for the task.
Early on in the night, election returns start pouring in from the East Coast. You know, those itty-bitty, tiny states on the map that you can barely make out — let alone fill in correctly with your big fat red or blue crayon. These maps were a mess before I’d really begun!
This year, I wanted a better way to play along at home with John King and CNN’s “magic wall,” so I set out to design a better map. I’d seen a few infographics that laid out the US on hex maps, and that seemed like the way to go:
Some of the sates are in slightly odd places, but they’re all a nice uniform shape for great at-home coloring, whether you’re 5 or 65.
Admittedly, my map also does a little disservice to Maine and Nebraska. These two special states use the ‘congressional district method’ for vote allocation — giving two electoral votes to the popular vote winner of their state, and then one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district (2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska).
To accommodate this, the fine people at mapchart.net created a nifty tool that also uses hex charting to represent the United States.
In their map, though, there’s a separate hexagon to color in for each electoral vote cast. It’s kinda fun for the four votes that are separate little islands in Hawaii, but it’s tedious to color 55 hexagons for California. And although I enjoy coloring along with my favorite news commentators, it’s not so fun that I want to spend the night filling in 538 separate votes.
While I’m willing to tolerate a little bit of imperfection and messiness on my map if one or both of these states splits their vote, I did want to make sure that I had a way to accommodate third party candidates. Kanye West will be on the ballot in 12 states, polling predictions might be wrong, and I’d need a place to tabulate his results in case any state needs to be colored in green. The nifty table on the right of my map created a place to do just that.
The result — if I do say so myself — is the best color-at-home map for electoral college vote tracking, hands down. And I’m giving it to you here, at no charge, ready to use on election night (whether you’re coloring on your own or with your favorite kid). In addition to my hexagon map (which truly is the best for election night tracking), I’ve also included the mapchart.net hex map and the boring, color-in-the-state-like-you’re-used-to-seeing-it maps.
Share with your friends, or your favorite teacher who could spice up their homework with some hexagons.
I’d love to hear what you think about this new map. And don’t forget to get out and vote!