Mapping Monday: How Votes Moved Many

When it comes to midterm elections, what do your students think? Are they confused as to why the elections are being held without a presidential race? Or are they tuned in to the fact that the officials elected during midterm elections can have a great impact on the future of their local communities? Do they realize that some of the officials elected during midterm elections have influence … Continue reading Mapping Monday: How Votes Moved Many

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.

Continue reading “Five for Friday: Election Wrap-up”

2008 Presidential Election Results: International Edition

The votes are in, and Barack Obama has been named
President-elect of the United States.

As the first African-American elected to the presidency, in
the midst of wars abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan
and a global economic crisis, this is no doubt an historic event for our
country–and the world.

You know how you reacted; now find out how others around the globe are responding to the news.

Image: Barack Obama tours his ancestral
homeland in Kenya, with his grandmother, Sarah Obama, in August 2006.

1. The Huffington
features excerpts from stories in England, Israel, Australia, and Kenya. Obama’s father, also Barak Hussein Obama, hailed from Nyangoma-Kogelo, Kenya. Did you know that there is a
high school and a beer named after this town’s favorite son-of-son? The honors
were bestowed on Barak Jr. even before he ran for president!

Another featured excerpt from The Australian highlights the significance of Obama’s victory for
the international community:

“The American people chose Obama yet most of the world also
wanted Obama – that invests his Presidency with a potential authority unknown
in history and an opportunity to touch not just Americans but people around the

2. CNN News includes an even wider selection,
geographically speaking, of media coverage from journalists in Asia, Russia, and
throughout the Arab world.

3.Finally, you can always count on the BBC (British
Broadcasting Corporation) to provide balanced perspective on all sides of an
issue. See how readers from all corners of the globe responded to the question “How will an Obama presidency affect your


Continue reading “2008 Presidential Election Results: International Edition”


Last Tuesday’s second presidential debate between Senators
Barack Obama and John McCain proved to be quite heated! Both candidates answered pre-selected
questions from undecided voters, and addressed concerns with health care,
foreign policy, and the economy. Even
though both Senators spent most of the debate tackling these large issues,
geography and geographic education snuck into their dialogue at times (or is
geography always an underlying theme in politics?)

Senator Obama placed America’s role in the global
economy into the hands of its educational system. When asked which issue he would prioritize
out of health care, energy, and entitlement reform, Senator Obama listed education instead of entitlement programs. He said, “We’ve got to deal with education so
that our young people are competitive in a global economy,” implying that
American education could use a dose of global perspective to heal its ailing
economy, and better-prepare its students to understand global connections.

Geography did not escape Senator McCain’s responses either. When
answering the final question of the night, Senator McCain commented, “The
challenges that we {as Americans} face are unprecedented. Americans are hurting
tonight in a way they have not in our generation.
There are challenges
around the world that are new and different and they will be different — we
will be talking about countries sometime in the future that we hardly know
where they are on the map…”

Continue reading “Geography…debated.”

Tell Us: What’s your take on the foreign policy debate?

Tell Us:
Did you get a chance to watch the first Presidential debate
on foreign policy Friday night? If you didn’t, get up to speed with these
recommended resources:

  1. Quotes on key foreign policy issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia/Georgia, and energy independence (BBC News)
  2. Watch the debate in full (BBC News)
  3. Written transcript of the debate (LA Times Blog)

What did you think of the focus on foreign policy relative
to other issues, like domestic economic policy (Of course, as new developments
in the European and Asian stock markets following last week’s bailout of
leading U.S. financial and insurance institutions reveal, U.S. economic
dynamics have great influence on the global economy and can hardly be
approached from a purely “domestic” perspective.)? Is there any specific topic
or world region you wished the candidates had addressed that they did not?


Continue reading “Tell Us: What’s your take on the foreign policy debate?”