Jesse Jackson joins the (mapping) fun

More fun with past presidential primaries below. This map is a mash-up of the 1988 and 1992 Democratic primaries, showing the strongholds of Jesse Jackson in 1988 (where he won at least one-third of the vote, above his nationwide primary total of 29 percent) and of Bill Clinton in 1992 (where he won a majority of the vote).

Now, there are all kinds of caveats with the available data. There were different candidates running in different states in the same year, depending on how late it was in the season (for example, whether the election was before or after Paul Tsongas withdrew from the race). But I picked Jesse Jackson rather than nominee for the baseline in 1988 because Jackson’s strength was relatively constant through the season, while Dukakis’s share of the vote steadily rose as other candidates dropped out. Similarly, in 1992, the anti-Clinton vote generally went to Tsongas at the beginning of the season and Jerry Brown later own, but certain states including California refused to give Bubba a majority even after he had obviously nailed down the nomination. So I’m not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good here. An accumulation of imperfect data (I’m hoping to factor in other years for still another map) does yield some idea of how the Democratic primary electorate has differed from state to state and from county to county.

My guess is that Hillary Clinton needs to do best in the blue counties — those that gave few votes to Jackson but went strongly for Bill Clinton. And Barack Obama needs to do best in the orange counties — those where Jackson ran strongly but where there was some doubt over Bill Clinton. The red counties, which tend to be inner cities or rural counties with a strong black population, will test whether Obama can get any traction with minority voters. The green counties tend to be socially liberal but wary of old-fashioned economic liberalism. They will show whether Hillary Clinton can make inroads among voters who were cool toward Bill.

(NOTE: Because county-by-county data is hard to find or nonexistent for caucus states, I used statewide totals to color all counties within. Jackson got more than a third of the vote in both Alaska and Hawaii; Clinton got a majority of the vote in Hawaii.)


Below is a close-up of the Northeast Corridor. Note that Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens are in "Obama orange"; he needs to be at least competitive there, even though this is Hillary’s home turf. (Then again, downstate Illinois should be prime Clinton territory, and that’s Obama’s home turf.) The Bronx — as well as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and much of New Jersey — may be a firewall for Hillary if she matches Bill’s inner-city appeal.


Finally, here’s a close-up of the Atlanta area, which is rather interesting. Fulton County, which includes Atlanta itself, went strongly for Jackson and Clinton. Next-door DeKalb County seems to like iconoclasts, giving relatively strong votes to both Jesse Jackson and Paul Tsongas (if Obama can’t win here, I don’t see how he can win anywhere). Cobb and Gwinnett counties, solidly Republican counties that extend a little farther from the city, are green, meaning they shrank from the "I feel your pain" rhetoric of Jackson and Clinton and preferred "cooler" candidates. And the exurbs are blue, meaning they liked Southern moderates (Al Gore in 1988, Clinton in 1992).

South Carolina data is sketchier, since it held caucuses in 1988, but Obama probably can’t afford to lose the counties where Tsongas had credible showings in 1992: Beaufort (home of the Hilton Head resort), Marion, and Pickens (home of Clemson University).