Political Geography

Joshua L. Mitchell, Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas
Karen SeboldClinical Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas
Andrew Dowdle, Professor, University of Arkansas
Scott Limbocker, Graduate Student, Vanderbilt University
Patrick A. StewartAssociate Professor, University of Arkansas

Running a national presidential campaign in the contemporary political environment costs tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars. However, scholars and observers have an incomplete grasp of the role that geography plays in presidential campaign finance. This knowledge gap is especially prominent during the “preprimary period,” or the year before the Iowa caucuses begin. In the book The Political Geography of Campaign Finance: Fundraising and Contribution Patterns In Presidential Elections, 2004 -2012, the authors examine the political geography of campaign contributions. Below are some examples of their findings:

2004 Partisan Divide 
This map shows that most of the nation tilted towards the Republican Party in terms of campaign contributions, minus a few counties.

2008 Partisan Divide
Here we see a highly polarized nation, with the country split between Democrats and Republicans for campaign contributions.

2012 Partisan Divide
We see a similar pattern to 2004 here, with much of the US divided between the two parties in terms of amount contributed.

2012 Sum Total Donations Democrats
As expected, we see much of the Democratic campaign contributions coming from the larger cities.

2012 Sum Total Donations GOP
This map shows similar to the Democrats in 2012, but there are unexpected areas of high contributions.