Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent more than $1 billion each on their presidential campaigns. The map tells you what kind of change a couple of billion dollars will buy you in today’s America. If the map looks largely blank to you, then you’re getting the picture. The map shows all the counties that switched allegiance between 2008 and 2012 — the counties that voted for one party four years ago and a different party in November. There are exactly 208 of these counties — flippers, we call them. Only 208 counties changed allegiance in 2012 out of the more than 3,100 counties that cast votes. President Obama’s campaign hired the brightest batch of social psychologists and social media experts the tech and academic worlds had to offer. They constructed complicated models predicting the behavior of individual voters and intricate social media strategies.
In the end, only 11 counties that favored John McCain in 2008 flipped in this election to support the Democrat. There were 197 counties that switched from Democrat in 2008 to Republican in 2012. Eight out of ten of the counties that flipped were either rural or exurban. Only 42 of the flippers were urban counties.
Statistician Robert Cushing checked all the presidential elections in the last 100 years and found that, on average, 24 percent of all counties switch parties from one election to the next.