Five for Friday: Election Wrap-up

As America rounds out a pivotal week in its politics and its history, we simply couldn’t
write about anything other than the 2008 election! As we take a look back at the campaign trail,
we’ll try one last time to argue that geography is at the heart of politics by
highlighting five facets of the 2008 race for the presidency and their
geographical ties.

Presidential Speeches
: What the candidates said was just as important as where they say it. This map shows the most
commonly used words by McCain and Obama in their speeches nationwide. “Energy” and “oil” were two of the most
commonly-used words for both candidates in California, while speeches in the Northeast
showed a partisan split in topics. “Israel” and “health insurance” were key
words for Obama, while McCain’s most common phrases in the same area were
“American business” and “small taxes.” It might be obvious that candidates
cater to the crowd they’re speaking to, but it’s interesting to see a visual
representation of how geography plays a role on the campaign trail.

The Vice-Presidential Picks
: What does place say
about personality? Apparently a
lot. Arguably a crucial part of the 2008 election was the VP pick
for both candidates. With the strengths
and weaknesses of both picks examined tirelessly (and yes, sometimes unevenly)
by the media, we are reminded that geographic connections are a major
consideration for any Presidential candidate picking a running mate. Obama’s pick of Joe Biden gave the Democrats
a substantial lead in the swing state of Pennsylvania come election time. Both picks reassured
voters of either party that their leader would look out for the middle class
because of his or her humble upbringing in middle class towns or remote areas. Track
the geographic trajectories of each the four candidates, and explore other
intriguing election-related maps, with Google Maps’ “2008 Elections Gallery.”

Global Economic Collapse and the Main Street  vs. Wall Street Debate:

Sick of that phrase yet? I’m sure you are. The Main Street versus Wall Street
debate came up in the presidential and vice presidential debates ad nauseam,
and showed the importance of each candidate’s knowledge of the strife of the
middle class, again by relating their personal experiences to place.



The Great Schlep
: So, this might not have been one of
the most “pivotal” moments in election history, but it’s a fun one
none-the-less. “The Great
” (TGS as some affectionately refer to it) was a movement by the
Jewish Council for Education and Research that encouraged Jewish youth to make
the “schlep” to Florida to educate their Jewish grandparents about Barack Obama. With downloadable talking points and travel
suggestions, the TGS website and movement helped to raise Jewish support for
Obama in Florida
from 60% in August when the movement began, to over an overwhelming 78% of the
Jewish population who voted for Obama in the election. Now that’s connecting across a country.

Obama’s Trip Abroad:
Although initially the New York Times reported
that Obama’s trip abroad did not boost the public’s confidence in his foreign
affairs abilities, it seems that his trip resonated with the rest of the world
in a very positive way. In our last MWW blog
, Sarah commented on Obama’s overwhelming acceptance abroad. Understanding the connections between places
is an important quality that both candidates needed to have to legitimate their
candidacy, not only in the U.S. but the world abroad.

What were you favorite geographic “facets” of the campaign? And
what geographic issues will be most critical to the new President in the months

Bethany for My Wonderful World

Images courtesy:

1) Axis Maps


3) Wikimedia Commons

4) The Great Schlep

5) the Weekly Standard

One thought on “Five for Friday: Election Wrap-up

Leave a Reply