March 5, 2008

Conspicuous Candidate Consumption

I was going to link to Richard Florida, re: his ideas about the creative class being necessary for economic development, in a post earlier today but didn't because, well, to be honest I've never read his book, only essay summarization's he's written and I often find myself agreeing with his critics more than him . . . but that's not the point, the point is that I saw this and now Tyler has linked to it and it got me thinking about the elections and the barrage of over-simplistic generalizations that will be making their way out of the mouths of pundits between now and November in attempts to explain how the nation is lining up behind the candidates and parties, I'm gonna stop this sentence right here because its getting out of hand.  Anyway, here are maps from some stats folks at Columbia U visualizing the number of Starbucks and Wal-Marts per capita.

Nothing too terribly surprising there.  Lots of Starbucks on the coasts, and lots of Wal-Marts in the heartland and the deep south.  (Insert blue state/red state corollary here)  Seeing this I was reminded that earlier in the primary season Obama was often referred to as "the Starbucks candidate" - a label intended to communicate, well, you know all the Starbucks cliches.  Hillary, likewise, was occasionally referenced as the Wal-Mart candidate in comparisons with Obama. So, how well do those characterizations hold up against actual Starbucks and Wal-Mart per-capita distribution?  Here's a map of Democratic primary results to date:

And, its pretty obvious that with only rare exceptions they don't match up - in fact they are a lot closer to being reversed with Clinton winning more of the coasts, Starbucks country, and Obama showing strong in the heartland and the deep south, Wal-Mart country.  Interestingly, both did well in Texas just as both Wal-Mart and Starbucks do well there.  Ok.  Well.  That was fun.  What do you know, generalizations don't usually hold up.  Good use of time there.

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