In the lead-up to the presidential elections, I’m endorsing this youtube clip from VOX.

I realise that it may not be especially economics-ey, but I think that the point is important: often, when we apply conventional logic (geography) to something that seems related (voters across said geography), we get it wrong. Badly wrong. Almost as wrong as likening an economy to a household.

Here’s the standard presidential presentation (from the 2012 Romney v Obama election):

geography us presidential election
Romney in Red, Obama in Blue

And from that angle, it seems crazy that Obama won. The whole of the country is basically a sea of red votes for Romney, with some isolated pockets of Obama, and then some purple in between.

But Obama won.

So what’s going on?

Well, clearly, if I was the kind of person that likened economies to households, I’d be saying things like:

  • The system is obviously rigged.
  • The comeuppance day is coming.
  • <rhetoric>

But the simple problem is that the map too linear. There is more than geography at play. There is population density.

And once you do that:

3d presidential election
Thanks to this great website, for both images.

Suddenly, it’s less surprising, right?

Perspective: it matters.

Also, don’t get fanatical about the two-dimensional simplicity of things. Leave that to the conspiracy theorists.

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at Or both.