What difference does it make if America is polarized, divided, highly partisan and not reading or listening to the same media – same story, different media?

This divisiveness is the biggest problem facing our democracy and it is the one that we must solve if we are going to continue to be a great nation. It is not a cliché to say “united we stand, divided we fall.” This is the biggest challenge we face, finding common ground.



There are multiple ways we are divided and these factors seems to be so interrelated that we can’t separate them from one another. We are divided by location, income, race, gender, ethnicity, education, religion, and certainly by world view.

A writer from Venezuela eloquently compared what happened in Venezuela over the past 15 years to what is currently happening in the US. He makes the case that the circumstances are not parallel in many ways but are similar in one important way. Both Chavez, the recently deceased Venezuelan president, and Trump are masters of populism. When we look at the current tribalism, polarization, and the lack of understanding, the US and Venezuela are remarkably similar.

His advice is simple, although it is challenging and difficult for both sides to take action.

  • Populism can only survive in an atmosphere of partisanship. Don’t feed polarization, disarm it.
  • Don’t show contempt for one another. Be calm and respectful.
  • Focus on the issues, and facts, relentlessly, especially the economy.
  • Go to each other’s “neighborhoods”.
  • Decide not to live in an echo chamber.
  • Emphasize that we belong to the same tribe, and that we are all Americans.

And second, we have to agree on facts and where we are going to get them. Without a common understanding of the facts and of data, we are lost. Attacking, calling names, refusing to listen, blaming, bullying, and gloating do not get us to common ground.


Two-thirds of Presidential Campaign Is in Just 6 States

From National Popular Vote

Two-thirds (273 of 399) of the general-election campaign events in the 2016 presidential race were in just 6 states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan).

94% of the 2016 events (375 of the 399) were in 12 states (the 11 states identified earlier in the year as “battleground” states by Politico and The Hill plus Arizona).  This fact validates the statement by former presidential candidate and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin on September 2, 2015, that “The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president.  Twelve states are.”


In addition to the 12 states that received 10 or more campaign events, 14 additional states received scattered attention (1, 2, or 3 events).   Eleven of these states (Georgia, Missouri, California, Washington, Texas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Indiana, Utah, New Mexico, and Connecticut) received a total of 22 Republican visits, but no Democratic visits.  Two of these states (Maine and Nebraska) were visited because those states award some of their electoral votes by congressional district.    One of these states (Illinois) received a Democratic campaign event at a large park located across the river from Davenport, Iowa (the prominent media market and population center in the area and the likely motivation for the event in Illinois).

The map above and chart below show all the post-convention campaign events by the major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees (Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, and Tim Kaine).  The count of Republican campaign events started on Friday July 22, 2016 (the day after the end of the party’s convention), and the count of Democratic campaign events started on Friday July 29 (the day after the end of the party’s convention).  The count ended on Monday November 7, 2016 (the day before Election Day).

The data on which this map is based was compiled by FairVote.  “Campaign events” are defined here as public events in which a candidate is soliciting the state’s voters (e.g., rallies, speeches, fairs, town hall meetings). This count of “campaign events” does not include visits to a state for the sole purpose of conducting a private fund-raising event, participating in a presidential debate or media interview in a studio, giving a speech to an organization’s national convention, attending a non-campaign event (e.g., the Al Smith Dinner in New York City), visiting the campaign’s own offices in a state, or attending a private meeting.

State Total D events R events Electoral votes Population 2010
Florida 71 36 35 29 18,900,773
North Carolina 55 24 31 15 9,565,781
Pennsylvania 54 26 28 20 12,734,905
Ohio 48 18 30 18 11,568,495
Virginia 23 5 18 13 8,037,736
Michigan 22 8 14 16 9,911,626
Iowa 21 7 14 6 3,053,787
New Hampshire 21 6 15 4 1,321,445
Colorado 19 3 16 9 5,044,930
Nevada 17 8 9 6 2,709,432
Wisconsin 14 5 9 10 5,698,230
Arizona 10 3 7 11 6,412,700
Georgia 3 3 16 9,727,566
Maine 3 3 4 1,333,074
New Mexico 3 3 5 2,067,273
Indiana 2 2 11 6,501,582
Minnesota 2 2 10 5,314,879
Missouri 2 2 10 6,011,478
Nebraska 2 1 1 5 1,831,825
California 1 1 55 37,341,989
Connecticut 1 1 7 3,581,628
Illinois 1 1 20 12,864,380
Mississippi 1 1 6 2,978,240
Texas 1 1 38 25,268,418
Utah 1 1 6 2,770,765
Washington 1 1 12 6,753,369
Alabama 0 9 4,802,982
Alaska 0 3 721,523
Arkansas 0 6 2,926,229
Delaware 0 3 900,877
District of Columbia 0 3 601,723
Hawaii 0 4 1,366,862
Idaho 0 4 1,573,499
Kansas 0 6 2,863,813
Kentucky 0 8 4,350,606
Louisiana 0 8 4,553,962
Maryland 0 10 5,789,929
Massachusetts 0 11 6,559,644
Montana 0 3 994,416
New Jersey 0 14 8,807,501
New York 0 29 19,421,055
North Dakota 0 3 675,905
Oklahoma 0 7 3,764,882
Oregon 0 7 3,848,606
Rhode Island 0 4 1,055,247
South Carolina 0 9 4,645,975
South Dakota 0 3 819,761
Tennessee 0 11 6,375,431
Vermont 0 3 630,337
West Virginia 0 5 1,859,815
Wyoming 0 3 568,300
Total 399 151 248 538 309,785,186


The map that makes the most sense is the voting map that displays lots of “blue” within “red” states. It is easy to see that while we are divided by voting patterns, we still live in states or “neighborhoods”, that have a mix of “blue” and “red” usually following an urban and rural divide. This pattern holds for most of the country with a couple of exceptions in Utah and some Midwestern states. A 2009 book by Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why Clustering of Like Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart, is based on voting data, is very well researched and sheds enormous light on what has happened to us.


Below are the results after the 2016 elections. There are 52 Republican senators and 48 Democratic senators, a familiar pattern.




There are hundreds of great websites that display all states information together so good for research between states, enabling a drill-down into individual states. Below are a few intended to get us started and on the same page with data before we engage in discussion and opinion. They are also useful for looking up facts so incorrect assumptions can be corrected. As you will note, most of these websites are from government or bipartisan sources, are well respected and can be relied upon to present data about states fairly and accurately.

Many of these websites are very well organized and easy to read. The deliberate choice was made to choose sites that displayed all states data and then enabled drilling down into an individual state.



Wikipedia Can find anything here. Great place to start


Ballotpedia Excellent site. Almost everything you could want to know about government is here, state by state


Factfinder Census bureau site with good organization of standard facts


Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau of labor statistics unemployment rate


1KeyData Summary of facts, by state


Facts Summary of facts, by state


Congress Links to each states’ legislature website


Library of Congress Guides to legislatures by state


NCSL State by state budget summaries, pretty challenging to read


Gov Track Tracks legislation by individual state or address. Powerful comprehensive site just to read


Tax Foundation Great business climate and tax information


WalletHub Analysis of state dependency on Federal tax dollars



Harry Dent This site is excellent for looking at summarized national and state economic data. Not sure about Mr. Dent’s projections!




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