It’s sort of interesting to examine the incredible transition in American politics that took place between 1928 and 1932 by examining the electoral college maps.
That’s obviously an amazing shift and these images are useful in the classroom to help students get how sharply Americans rejected the Republican Party in 1932. But it’s even more fascinating to break this down by county.
Now, this is pretty amazing. One caveat of course, which is that such maps far give visual priority to rural counties and ignore the huge totals that Democrats put up in the cities. But the American population was far more rural in 1930 than in 2016, so the phenomenon is less stark and misleading. Anyway, in 1928, the Republican domination was so great that Al Smith was even losing counties in the Deep South. I assume some of this had to do with his support to repeal Prohibition. Outside of the South, Smith’s support was just a smattering here and there. Pretty terrible lose for Democrats.
But my god, by 1932 the transition is incredible. The only place Republicans can win is there home base of rock-ribbed conservative rural New England and New York (FDR notoriously never won his home of Dutchess County. Obviously like Al Gore unable to win Tennessee in 2000, FDR was an incompetent fool) and the Republican since 1860 counties of southern Appalachia, Hoover was utterly demolished. Hoover won every county but one in Washington in 1928. FDR won every county in Washington in 1932. The transition is nearly as stark in states like Arizona, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. I’m also fascinated by holdout counties that don’t seem like that they’d be that different from their surrounding counties. What made Benton County different than the rest of Oregon? Was Oregon State University a Republican stronghold? What made Riverside County different than the rest of California? Similarly, why is there that one hard-core Al Smith county in the middle of deep red Kansas in 1928?
One can have endless fun with these county maps.