Still Purple (the map on the left/top), digital image, 2012, designed specifically for the web. [The 2008 version of Purple is shown on the right/bottom for comparison.]
Chris created Purple while in an optimistic mood about our political future in 2008, to show the fundamentally mixed and centrist (as opposed to divided and extreme) nature of Americans' ideologies.
Of course, the next four years turned out to involve a lot less political civility and cooperation than he had expected in 2008.
However, the 2012 election showed that there are still a fair amount of purple feelings out there in the country, so he created this map to show the results. The states are clearly a bit more red, showing Romney's slightly higher percentage of the vote than McCain had in 2008.
The map was created to reflect the popular vote in each state. In 2008, Chris mixed blue and red to reflect each state's ratio of Democratic and Republican votes, respectively. This resulted in a bluer or redder version of purple depending on whether the state voted more heavily for the Democrats or the Republicans.
In 2012, Chris decided to alter this approach slightly, adding a third color for all the independant votes in each state, to make it an even better reflection of the range of voter ideologies. Since the map was made in RGB color space, the color green was used to represent all independent votes. It should be noted that the green color does NOT stand for the Green political party in particular. The color green stands for ALL independent votes, whether they are for the Green party, the Libertarian party, or anyone else. Chris could have broken down the independent vote by party, of course, but it would not have made for very uniform results, since in many states only one independent party had results over 1% of the total, and in many cases the vote were affiliated with a localized independent party that existed in only one state. This would have necesitated too many new colors to fit in a standard computer color model. Also, even when aggregated into a single group as it is here, the green color is honestly almost totally impossible to pick up on visually, so watering it down further would have diluted its visual impact even more.
Here's how it worked, using New Hampshire as a random example. The vote in New Hampshire was 46.4% Republican, 52.2% Democratic, and 1.4% independent. (Chris used the results on Politico for his numbers.) Every color in an RGB color space is created by mixing Red, Green, and Blue in a paricular ratio. Each of these three component colors is numbered from 1 to 255, with 1 signifying a lack of that color, and 255 signifying full saturation for that color. The final color is a ratio of the numbers of the individual colors that create it.
To get New Hampshire's color, Chris multiplied the voter percentages by 255, which gave him a percentage of the full saturation of each color. 46.4% of 255 is 118 (all numbers must be whole numbers), 52.2% of 255 is 133, and 1.4% of 255 is 4. Therefore, New Hampshire's color is made by mixing red at 118, blue at 133, and green at 4, with the result being a particular shade of purple.
In 2008, Missouri had a perfect 128/128 balance of blue and red. In 2012, no state was quite so perfectly so balanced. The 2012 state with the closest vote was Florida, with a color ratio of 125 red/128 blue/2 green, followed by Ohio, with a ratio of 123 red/128 blue/4 green, and North Carolina, with a ratio of 129 red/123 blue/3 green.
The areas with the highest amount of blue are Washington DC (with a blue of 233), Hawaii (180), and Vermont (171). The states with the highest amount of red are Utah (with a red of 186), Wyoming (177), and Oklahoma (170). The states with the highest amount of green are New Mexico (with a green of 10), Alaska (9), and Maine (8).
You can get the full-size version of the map here.
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