Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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The Geography of Swing States

The Geography of Swing States | Geography Education |
Right now, the conventional wisdom says that there are just nine states that might go either way on Nov.

Not all votes are created equally; votes in these 9 key states have a greater likelihood of impacting the actual outcome of the Presidential election.  If we assume that the other states vote as anticipated, and that each candidate has an equal opportunity in the remaining 9 states (yes, these are a major assumptions, but work with me), than President Obama has a 84% likelihood of winning in the 512 possible permuations.  Geographer Andy Baker has created a video that provides a solid non-partisan analysis of the political geography of these states (and other) states.   

Tags: political, unit 4 political.

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Geographic Analysis of 2012 Presidential Election

Geographer Andy Baker provides an excellent spatial analysis of the key voting patterns that will shape the 2012 presidential election in the United States.


Tags: political, statistics, spatial, regions, USA.

Jesse Gauthier's comment, October 14, 2012 3:24 PM
This video was very helpful for me because the speaker clearly gave visual examples of the many topics that can steer certain voters in the U.S. to vote a certain way, during election time. It helped me better interpret political data, since I am a visual learner.
Betty Denise's comment, October 15, 2012 6:19 AM
RT the comment !
Frank Fenn's comment, March 2, 2013 2:09 AM
I used this during the Political Unit. I find that 9th graders know nothing about politics beyond what concerns them at the moment. Stretching their brain back to when they were 7 helps build the political foundations of the future!
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Election 2012: Teaching Ideas and Resources

Election 2012: Teaching Ideas and Resources | Geography Education |

We suggested ways to teach about Election 2012 and included links to lesson plans and Times features, and we'll be updating the page regularly as the march to the White House proceeds.

The Learning Network has partnered with the NY Times to produce lesson plans for all ages (and all disciplines) on how to teach using the 2012 United States Presidential Election. 

Tags: Political, K12, training, education.

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Red State Reads, Blue State Reads

Red State Reads, Blue State Reads | Geography Education |
What political books are residents of your state reading? A new interactive map from Amazon shows recent book sales broken down by either "red" or "blue" political leanings.


I do not think that "book sales" is a surrogate for "projected votes," but this is revealing about the political landscape and especially the marketing of politically partisan materials. 

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Latino boom makes Orlando proving ground for Obama

Latino boom makes Orlando proving ground for Obama | Geography Education |
President Obama and Mitt Romney are set to make appearances beginning Thursday at a major gathering of Latino officials and activists...


A core component of the 2012 U.S. presidential elections will be the demographic profile of both the Republican and Democratic Parties’ power base. For most of American history, the African-American population was the largest minority second to the Caucasian minority. Since the 2000 census, the Latino population has overtaken the African-American population as the largest minority in the U.S.  How does this impact both parties?  What are the strategies of both parties to appeal from a diverse set of voters?   How does the immigration issue shape 'identity politics?'

Don Brown Jr's comment, September 12, 2012 3:40 PM
Unlike African Americans there is much more differentiation within the Latino population which contains within itself many nationalities with competing priorities. Due to this wide variation of interest it will likely be much harder for either the Democrats or Republicans to gain the support of the entire group. Therefor this question may revolve around what kind of people or concerns will both parties use to gain the support of the majority ofdifferent interest groups within Americas Latino population for the 2012 election.
GIS student's comment, September 13, 2012 9:25 AM
The problem ahead for the republicans is that many of their views and opinions go against the ideas of many Latinos. According to the article Romney has many struggles with Latino community because his views are the opposite of what the majority of the Latino voters consider. On the opposite side Obama has a difficult road ahead as well. Does he focus his campaign more on the large minority or does he concentrate on the majority which could cause a shift in the minority. Regardless Florida has been a primary example of identity politics ever since the election 2008 where some areas were no longer considered battleground areas.
Nicholas Rose's comment, September 13, 2012 10:05 AM
Well, I would like to say is that the Hispanic minority is the majority of the Florida population including major cities like Orlando which is mentioned in the article and Miami. Historically, Florida was a Spanish colony which was led by Juan Ponce De Leon. Even though that Florida is usually a Republican state when it comes to voting but I think that it'll be more of a major impact for the Democratic party than the republican party because of the immigration issues that President Obama was paying attention to throughout his presidency so far.
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Rangel Downplays The Roots That Might Help His Re-Election

Rangel Downplays The Roots That Might Help His Re-Election | Geography Education |
An interesting case of identity politics is playing out in New York's new 13th Congressional District. A Dominican-American state senator is threatening longtime Rep. Charles Rangel in the district, which is now majority Hispanic.


Identity, whether it be be race, religious, color or creed absolutely matters in politics.  Especially local politics where the demographics of a city or district play a major role in the viablity of a candidate.  If the constituency perceives the candidate's cultural identity as either representing or not representing 'the people,' that can play a key role in the election. 

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Santorum Sees Divide Between Rural and Urban America

Santorum Sees Divide Between Rural and Urban America | Geography Education |

The 2012 election are showing again some of the cultural, political and economic divides that exist in the United States.  This above map portrays the 2008 presidential election, with counties that voted for McCain in red and Obama in blue.  Rick Santorum has said, in reference the political map of the United States today, "Think about it, look at the map of the United's almost all red except around the big cities."  Rick Santorum, by taking on “blue” big cities, is also criticizing the Republicans, his own party. This political portray is an attempt to accentuate the difference between rural and urban America to hit his key demographic, but it also begs for further analysis into the electoral geography of the United States.  As some social media skeptics have retorted, "It's all blue except where nobody lives."  Which is it?  What do these patterns say about United States politics?  Why do these patterns exist?  For more maps that shed light on the spatial voting patterns from the 2008 election, see:

Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 10, 2013 10:50 PM

Senator Santorum has made a good point here. For years his party (and even the other) have been redistricting their states in order to gain advantages in state elections.  It has been common knowledge which areas are leaning red and which are blue.  Yet nobody seems to be trying to strenghten their base in weaker areas. One thing that would've helped immensely is if the Republicans had strengthened their support among immigrants and African Americans. They heavily populate these urban areas that Republicans need support in in order to strengthen their base.

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 18, 2014 1:17 PM

While looking at this map in class, and then various other maps it is interesting to look at the correlations between the geography of the area and the way they voted. For example, the cotton belt votes democratic, which would make sense given the history behind the location.

Miles Gibson's curator insight, February 15, 2015 1:23 AM

Unit 4 political geography

This picture explains how political development and parts of America have come to understand and define elements of the world's own cultural backgrounds of urban and rural development. The picture shows that the urban areas are developing in the way of republicans.

This picture relates to unit 4 because it shows how the geography and urban development creates a dividing line of politics and governmental work in the area of rural area to convert to the political status of the urban areas.

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Conservative Religious Leaders Vote to Back Santorum

Conservative Religious Leaders Vote to Back Santorum | Geography Education |
Christian leaders voted to support the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum in hopes of undercutting Mitt Romney’s dominance of the Republican field.


The geography of the 'Bible Belt' is going to intersect powerfully with the GOP primaries in a hurry. As Mitt Romney (an active member of the LDS church) appears to be the early frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, there are some interesting religious ramifications for that on both the right and left. Evangelicals listened to every major Republican hopeful but two in deciding whom they should endorse. Romney and Huntsman were not considered, because as Mormons, they are the two candidates that they are seeking to block.


Many evangelicals do not feel that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are in fact 'Christians.' Although this Southern/Intermountain West political coalition often line up in socially conservative issues of politics, doctrinal discrepancies are fracturing the GOP political power base and the geography of religion and religious groups in the United States might play a key role in the 2012 election.

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Why Are States So Red and Blue?

Why Are States So Red and Blue? | Geography Education |
Theories about our right-wing and left-wing mind-sets don't explain why they are tied to geography.

While not endorsing all the cultural assumptions in the article, this is still an interesting exploration into expalining why distinct places are are politically aligned with particular parties. 

Questions to ponder: What portions of the author's argument do you agree (or disagree) with?  What do you see as the reasons behind the spatial distributions of "blue" and "red" in the United States? 

Tags: political, place, USA, culture, unit 4 political.

BraydenJulietteGeo's comment, November 21, 2013 1:26 PM
this is a extremely interesting article on how certain portions of our country are know for voting for certain political party's during presidential elections. We have seen this political pattern all through our history, and can now almost always guess what states will be red or blue when it comes time for elections. Because this talks about political party's I have put this under political
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Electoral Geography

Electoral Geography | Geography Education |
Mitt Romney’s narrow electoral vote path explained — in 5 maps...

The above map represents the last time the Republican Party won a presidential election in the United States.  As the polls currently are projecting that President Obama will be re-elected, the most critical questions about the voting patterns for both parties are spatial in nature. 

Questions to ponder: how are current political patterns changing the map?  Which states become the most pivotal for either candidate to be victorious? 

Tags: political, regions, spatial, unit 4 political

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The Impact of Religion on Politics

For the first time in U.S. history, a Mormon is on a major-party presidential ticket. The Wall Street Journal examines the changing role of religion in Ameri...


Aren't religion and politics supposed to be the two things we are counseled not to discuss to avoid controversy?  This video hits on something that plays a role for both candidates in the 2012 presidential campaign in the United States: their faith and how voters perceive their faith.  This video discusses Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and some past presidents' religious beliefs.  I feel this video handles very controversial topics in a thoughtful and fair manner given that it treats various religious traditions and political ideologies in a non-partisan manner.  The geography of religion might play an significant role in the outcome of the 2012 election.   

Rishi Suresh's curator insight, January 16, 2014 12:40 PM

Khanh Fleshman's insight: This relates to Key Issue #1 because it shows how religion is an unavoidable part of a country's culture, including in politics.


Vinay Penmetsa: This article explains how religion is related to politics, and how religion and politics interact which is related to this section


Graham Shroyer's insight: This relates to this section because religion is a big part of a country and it defines many things, even the government sometimes.


Zahida Ashroff's Insight: This relates to Key Issue #1 because it shows the relationship between religions and people's beliefs. People's beliefs are influenced by religion, as their religion forces them to draw some rules they would have otherwise disregarded.


Rishi Suresh: Religion is unavoidably a part of politics. Religion is involved in many things that may at first glance seem to be outside its area of influence. 

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Map of America’s Hispanic population

Map of America’s Hispanic population | Geography Education |
In the race to the White House, no ethnic group is more prized than Hispanics. President Obama ended deportations for some young undocumented immigrants, and the Romney campaign is vetting Sen.


This interactive map feature combines to interesting variables (at the county level): the percentage of the total population that is Hispanic, and the 2008 presidential election.  Analyze your local area and a few counties as well.  What connection exists between the two variables?  How come?  What are some exceptions to these general patterns?

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Pena Nieto claims victory in Mexico election

Pena Nieto claims victory in Mexico election | Geography Education |
Presidential candidate says Mexicans have voted for change of direction after exit polls project win for his PRI party.


For the first time in 12 years, Mexico's president will be from the PRI party (which dominated and led power from the 1920's to 2000).  Enrique Peña Prieto won the election, in large part due to Mexico's dissatisfacation with the PAN's handling of the escalating drug violence.  A few decades back, the PRI kept the violence out of the streets with some tacit agreements with the drug cartels to stay within particular territories.

Seth Dixon's comment, July 2, 2012 11:00 AM
I'm afraid that stability and corruption is what Mexico is choosing over instability and freedom. Unfortunately, stability and liberty weren't both on the table. Maybe the PRI in the last 12 years out of power has cleaned up it's act but I am nervous since they were are "party monopoly" when in power that would violate human rights and rig elections.
Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, July 7, 2012 11:26 AM
This picture speaks of how the Mexican people feel towards this election;
Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 4, 2014 12:43 PM

This article is about the victory over the election and the vixctor coming in first was congradulated by President Obama and said that he is excited to be working together in the efforts of creating a better cause. Pena Priento is now the system ruler

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The Geography of Gay Marriage

The Geography of Gay Marriage | Geography Education |

With President Obama announcing that he now supports the legalization of gay marriage and Gov. Romney reiterated the GOP stance that marriage should be between a man and a woman, this sets the stage for a 'culture war' to be at the center of the 2012 election.  While communities, churches and families may be split on this topic, there are some strong regional patterns that (given the electoral college) will have important political ramifications.  As Jennifer Mapes stated about this interactive map, "it's useful in showing the geographic polarization of the country (coasts/center; urban/rural) as states strengthen laws that either allow for or restrict gay marriage/civil unions over the past ten years." 

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2008 Election Maps

2008 Election Maps | Geography Education |

As the election year is ramping up, now is a good time to introduce electoral geography (since there are millions of dollars been spent of this type of analysis).  Displayed is the county map of the 2008 presidential election (McCain=red, Obama=blue).  What are the geographic and demographic characteristics of the 2008 voting base of both the Republican and Democratic parties?  This is also a great map to discuss how to interpret maps--how could this map be misleading?  What additional information is needed to contextualize this data?  Follow the link for additional maps that provide attempt to visualize that context.    

Liam Michelsohn's curator insight, November 12, 2013 1:05 PM

I really enjoyed this article, it was insctieful interesting and had very informitive visual aids. It was very interesting to see all the differnt maps prtayted thoughout the artile. I found that the infomation that they were describing was alot of things I had heard before, but the added affect of the visual aids were able to give me a deeper understading. It also really brings up some key geogragaphical regaions and shows how even thouhg a state might be blue there are still areas(towns, countis) with in the sate that are primarly red party. When this election was going on it sure seemed like it was goiing to be neck and neck, but clearly on election day bule took over .

Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, November 29, 2013 1:01 PM

It is amazing how a map can throw people off. It looks like McCain was winning but at the end Obama has won because more people have voted for him than his competitor. Also in the shaded blue area are much more populated then the areas in red because the red area are surrounded by woods and also the red area is like the suburbs of the city. It is very different how maps are portrayed and how misleading they can be. Never depend on one source find as many as you can to make your interpretations   

Lauren Sellers's curator insight, May 29, 2014 10:42 AM

Electoral college maps can sometimes trick you because it looks like McCain won but although most of mid west is republican there isnt a large population so they dont get as many votes as states with bigger populations like California, New York, Texas, Florida, etc. 

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2008 Election maps

2008 Election maps | Geography Education |

Excellent electoral geography maps from the U.S. presidential election of 2008.  What are the major patterns you see?  What do these patterns in say about the politics, culture and demographics about these places?

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