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This might be the best map of the 2016 election you ever see

An elegant solution to a prevailing problem.

Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

Anybody trying to illustrate how Americans voted in the 2016 election — or any presidential election, for that matter — are confronted with the problem that while the Electoral College votes by state, very few people live in very big swaths of land in the rural parts of the country. The map often ends up looking very red, even if America is actually almost evenly divided between red and blue.

The webcomic XKCD — the brainchild of Randall Munroe, known for an irreverent but mathematical bent — has cracked this riddle better than maybe anyone before, accurately representing how different parts of the country voted as well as how many people actually live there.


With its trademark stick figures, and the novel approach of spreading them across an American map, XKCD gives a clearer picture of where the voters in the United States are located and which way they voted in 2016.

Here is Alan Cole, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, explaining what this map gets right that its predecessors struggle with: