the ghost of cotton


BARACK OBAMA’S WINNING map asserted the political dominance of a new, dynamic America, as he flipped blue some of the country’s youngest, most diverse, and fastest-growing areas. Yet in the Deep South, the one region where Obama failed to win a state, there is little evidence of that demographic churn. Its political behavior seems tied more closely to antebellum industry than to any of the social changes the country has undergone since. The accompanying map shows that even this year, cotton remains kingmaker: The map of Obama’s Southern voters is strikingly similar to the historical map of cotton production circa 1860, on the eve of the Civil War (a phenomenon pointed out by blogger Allen Gathman).

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