Another view of the ‘big empty’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I have previously posted some cartography maps of the 2012 election that give a better understanding of the vote distribution than simply coloring states blue or red. The Two Americas: Urban Versus Rural:

Take a look at this map of the popular vote for the 2012 election.


See those dark red counties in the Great Plains and the Mountain West? This is what I like to call the "big empty" — vast tracts of sparsely populated areas where few people live. If a handful of farmers or rachers in the local co-op get together and vote Republican, they paint their county a dark red.

One problem. One city block in an urban community has more voters than that entire county in the "big empty." Take a look at the map again. In general, those blue counties mostly represent urbanized areas, with few exceptions (some counties are where colleges and universities are located). And there are major urban areas, for example Maricopa County, which does not appear blue on this map. There are Republican-leaning urban counties.

But this photo from the Suomi NPP satellite that uses an infrared imaging radiometer instrument to record city lights is really the best way to view the "big empty."



  1. I noticed that as well. I lived in the Northern Plains and I know that there are no large cities there. Your suspicion was well founded. I came to the same conclusion.

  2. Just a seque taken from the satellite image…I was wondering how there could possibly be a large enough population on the northern, middle-section US border to produce a big white blob like that so I googled a bit and confirmed my suspicion that it had to do with the oil industry, specifically, the Bakken North Dakota Oil Field. Sad. Apparently, it’s mainly from burning off “waste” natural gas. See this July article: