Election Maps Should be the Shape of Ohio and Florida

Earlier today I wrote that the people who chose not to vote this year could easily have swayed the election (as is always the case). I used popular vote numbers because they’re easier to find, and I think the point could still be made by looking at them even though we all know that the election was really decided by a couple states: Florida and Ohio.
I watched the television election coverage for hours on Tuesday night, flipping between the major networks while trying to avoid commercials and pointless banter about states that were clearly pre-decided. In general, I was disappointed with the coverage. The reporters were all informed enough to know that the election would be decided by the swing states, yet they focused on total electoral votes as they came in.
An election is not a sporting event. Dan Rather was talking about Bush’s momentum and how it would be hard for Kerry to catch up – but at that point the only swing state to report was Pennsylvania – and Penn went to Kerry. There’s no such thing as momentum if you’re just counting votes.
The close states are necessarily the last to be called, and I think the news networks did a bad job by focusing on the obvious rather than the decisive. A map of the precincts of Ohio and Florida would have showed the viewers the much more about the state of the race than a map of the whole country and a giant bar graph of electoral-votes-so-far.