The old tenant in the White House stays for another four years after Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States. By the time of writing, Obama has secured 303 of the electoral votes, while his opponent Romney could only secure 206. The 29 votes from Florida were still undecided, but showed a favour towards Obama. The number of votes in the electoral college which elects the president reflects very much the population distribution in the country, and according to the US voting system one state gives all its votes to the winning candidate in that state. Therefore the presidential election is often displayed on a map based on state-level results. What the conventional maps fail in though is a correct proportional view of the votes, giving the less densely populated space in the mid-west a lot more space in the map display compared to the densely populated east or also larger states such as Washington. The following state-level population cartogram corrects that perspective by resizing each of the US states according to its total population and colouring the state by the colour of the winning candidate in the 2012 presidential election (assuming Florida also goes to Obama as currently predicted):
Amid Europe’s debt crisis it remains less noticed that the largest mountain of debt in the world is piled up across the big pond in the United States of America. The topic will be critically debated in US politics as presidential elections are due in 2012. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2011, Volume 2, Issue 3) Danny Dorling and I took a closer look at the foreign liabilities of America’s debt.
The map we created for this feature is a cartogram with the world’s countries resized according to the total amount of US treasury securities that are held in each country (as shown in data from July 2011). This is a preview of the maps that we created for the article:
The financial crisis continues to make it into the headlines. Mountains of debt piled up by the world’s wealthiest nations (as shown in this map) stir up the financial markets and indicate that political measures since the early days of the economic meltdown in 2008 had little impact or simply were too meaningless to induce a real change into the mechanisms of the markets. The EU keeps struggling to calm investors over fears of yet another country going bust while on the other side of the pond the rating agencies start playing games with the world’s largest economy. As the NYT explains, The rating agency thinks the United States has too much debt, or at least will: “Under our revised base case fiscal scenario — which we consider to be consistent with a AA+ long-term rating and a negative outlook — we now project that net general government debt would rise from an estimated 74 percent of G.D.P. by the end of 2011 to 79 percent in 2015 and 85 percent by 2021.” (read more about credit agency ratings in the A ‘AAA’ Q. and A.). After some brief debates about credit agencies not long ago, these discussions seem to have disappeared again, and the old mechanisms of nervous investors and even more nervous decision makers, like it always did in the last three years.
At the same time an emerging super power starts to find its own political voice against its perhaps largest rival: After years of growing economic dominance, China seems to gain confidence in confronting the USA with bold statements. As the largest holder of US debt, they may start to worry with the investors’ decline in trust in America, causing China to warn America over its addiction to debt.
The current American debt levels did not come out of the blue, but have long started piling up, as a look at the development of US debt over the last decade shows: The total national debt of the United States is at $14.3 trillion this year, up from $5.8 trillion in 2001. Particularly interesting for the global markets is the external debt that the USA owes to foreign holders outside the country. Here George W. Bush took over approximately $1 trillion in foreign debt from the Clinton administration (Bill Clinton managed to induce a reduction in national debt levels in his second term). After a short period in which this downward trend continued, foreign US debt started to rise after September 2001, and Bush handed over more than $3 trillion of National debt to Barak Obama in 2009, with a considerable trend upwards since the financial crisis hit the nation in 2008. Only recently this upward trend started to level off slightly, and foreign debt is now just below $4.5 trillion. Besides China, as the largest single holder of foreign US debt, the liabilities are spread around the globe, with a considerable amount of debt being held by some of the other indebted economies such as the United Kingdom (as the country with the largest external debt of European countries). The following map shows the countries of the world resized according to the total amount of US treasury securities that are held in that country. It uses the most recent data published by the US Treasury:
A map showing the US midterm elections results is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2011, Volume 2, Issue 1). The accompanying article written by Charles Pattie, Danny Dorling and me looks at the implications of the election results.
Here are the bibliographic details:
- Pattie, C. Hennig, B. D. and Dorling, D. (2011). In Focus: US Midterm Elections 2010. Political Insight2 (1): 34.
Article online (Wiley)
More electoral maps can be found here.
Around the world countries are counting their people in the national censuses. The world’s largest country China aims to chart its shifting population, so does the second largest nation India (who also just released their latest tiger census results), Germany takes a deeper look into its shrinking population for the first time since 1987, while the United Kingdom looks at its still growing population. These are just some of the example for the currently ongoing latest rounds of censuses around the world which will also lead to significant updates of global socioeconomic data which has been used for the realisation of the worldmapper project.
The USA is one of the first countries to have completed their latest 2010 census and recently started publishing the figures from last year’s population count. Among the first numbers released are the population counts, which draw the most up-to-date picture of the US population distribution and does also allow to analyse the changes since the last census took place in 2000. The following map uses these figures and shows the US population in cartogram form based on the state level figures. The main map shows each state resized according to the total number of people living there, and colours the states by their relative change (in percent) compared to the 2000 population. The upper left map inset shows the same map, colouring the states by their total population changes in that 10 year period. The bottom right map inset resizes the states according to the total population changes that took place between 2000 and 2010, and colours the relative change on top of that: