Micro-politics, micro-voting, micro-geography

In these last few days before the election on Tuesday, all the talk is of micro-politics. Going door to door to get out the vote. Having micro-maps down to the household level. I was reminded of this again by a story on NPR Morning Edition this morning, which looked at a close race in Iowa.

Micro-politics is all about having fantastically detailed maps of the neighborhood which indicates whether someone is likely to vote, and if so, whether they will vote for your candidate. We're talking block-level politics here, not the usual maps you see online, which only go down to the voting district level.

When I was younger, my father ran for city council a couple of times. We would make this large, extremely detailed map of the voting district and mark off houses that we had canvassed. Likely voters would be colored in two or three colors depending on which party thay had said they would vote for. On election day we could visit these houses and make sure they had voted (offering rides for example to the elderly if necessary).

My father died about nine years ago and I wish I had that map today. As I remember it, it was huge, the size of the whole desktop and colored in by hand in pencils. It had (to me) cryptic annotations and notations. I suppose it had been obtained from the city planning office. Of course, it was all on paper, not computer. There's a certain physicality to maps that can't be replicated on the computer. In fact, their bulkiness and size is part of that, not an inconvenience. So if you can't fold a map ("shut" it), don't worry, you're having a genuine mapping experience!

Well I guess this entry has veered a bit from my original point. Never mind!

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