Fascinating County-by-County Maps Show Where Alternative Candidates Have Drawn Their Strength

Twitter mapmaker @Mill226 recently created a set of county-by-county maps to chart the best showings of third party and independent presidential candidates over the past half-century. He’s graciously allowing us to republish some of his maps here on IPR. If you find these kinds of visualizations interesting, you should definitely follow him on Twitter.

In the first map, George Wallace’s 1968 campaign on the segregationist American Independent Party line essentially dominates the Southeast, while Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign rules everywhere else.

Of note are a few pockets of deep support for Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin in 2016. Johnson polled into double-digits in much of his home turf of northern New Mexico. McMullin’s highly concentrated support among Mormon voters saw him win nearly 30% in several Utah counties.

Perhaps the most unusual feature is a single purple dot in Iowa, representing Natural Law Party candidate John Haeglin‘s 1992 campaign. Jefferson County is the headquarters of what was then known as the Maharishi University of Management, a center of the Transcendental Meditation movement and headquarters of the Natural Law Party. Hagelin polled more than 20% there.

When Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign is removed from the equation, things look a bit more interesting. McMullin and Johnson expand their bases, and new candidates join the mix like John Schmitz (1972) and Ed Clark (1980).

This map also shows a scattering of Nader hot spots around college towns in places like Colorado and California. Nader won 10.4% of the vote in Travis County, Texas (Austin).

This interesting map compares the 1980 campaign of John B. Anderson and the 2000 campaign of Ralph Nader:

So as I said at the start of this post, if these sorts of maps are your thing consider following @Mill226 on Twitter, there’s much more to explore:

16 thoughts on “Fascinating County-by-County Maps Show Where Alternative Candidates Have Drawn Their Strength

  1. wolfefan

    This is really interesting – thanks and thank you for introducing me to that Twitter account!

  2. Joseph Buchman

    This is why I love IPR – can’t do the equivalent on other social media, and once here gets archived by the wayback machine. Preserving history, and contemporaneous thoughts of IPR readers as it happens . . .

    Thompson Springs Utah was a hotspot for Gary Johnson in 2012 – he won the Presidency among voters in that small town, I believe.

    And I remember Andre Marrou winning Dixville Notch in 1992.

  3. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Harry Browne’s showings in 1996 and 2000 didn’t set any records under the parameters used to create these maps.

  4. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Interesting about Thompson Springs, Utah… do you know where I could find localized results? Curious what the order of finish was, like if McMullin was also in the mix or if it was just a pocket of Johnson voters in that one town.

  5. Joseph Buchman

    I believe I head that from Apollo Pazel, and I believe he had the zip-code by zip code results. 2012 was before McMullin (fixed the typo from 2021, to 2012 in my original comment).

  6. Nathan Norman

    Why was 1968 taken as the start point? I’d be more interested in seeing a map of third party bests since 2000. I’d imagine Bernie ’16 would win some counties in VT and Paul ’08 would win some counties in MT.

  7. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Joe — Neat, the zip-code level data would be very interesting indeed!

    Nathan — I edited your comment to remove a completely off-topic remark.

    To your point, I think of 1968 as a natural starting point for “modern era” third parties. It includes Wallace, Schmitz and Anderson that way. A 2000-onward map might be interesting as well.

    Sanders write-in votes probably would show up in Vermont, but I think the 2008 vote for Ron Paul would be covered up by the Nader 2000 or Johnson 2016 in most of the state. Is there some county in particular you think he outpolled those two?

  8. Andy

    Harry Browne 1996 and 2000 were two of the best campaigns ever for recruiting new people into the Libertarian Party and movement, and these are people who all became strong libertarians.

  9. Austin Cassidy Post author

    Andy — Absolutely true. He got out there and sold the party in a way no other nominee has, before or since. His occasional appearances on Larry King and other cable outlets were probably the first time millions of Americans heard of the LP. (I actually voted for him in 2000.)

    Nathan — Good catch!

  10. George Whitfield

    Great research work and excellent presentation. Thank you. I have voted for every Libertarian candidate for President starting in 1980 with the exception of 1984 when Bergland failed to get on the Virginia ballot and write-in votes for President were not allowed.

  11. SocraticGadfly

    Carter County, Montana: Population 1,160. That’s why these things have their effect. Would be interesting to, rather than going by ZIP code, to blank out counties with less than, say 25K population.

  12. SocraticGadfly

    I don’t know why Carter County was cited, other than it favoring third parties cuz it’s so tiny, and thus, not statistically significant.. It’s the SE Corner of Montana and NOT what’s on the map.

    The darkest Green in Montana for Nader? Missoula County, home of the U of Montana. Makes MUCH more sense than some SE Montana prairie county.

    WHAT I FIND INTERESTING in Montana is the SW area, the Montana side of the Continental Divide with Idaho.

    Strong Nader and before that … strong Wallace.

  13. Austin Cassidy Post author

    If you scroll up, Nathan suggested doing a map of 2000-2020 and that there might be a county in which Ron Paul (2008) might appear. I figured Johnson (2016) and/or Nader (2000) would’ve outpolled him everywhere, but it turns out Carter County is one place where Paul outpaced both of them.

    That’s the only significance.

    Missoula, MT was actually Nader’s second strongest county nationwide in 2000… he polled 15.03% of the vote there!

    Montana was Nader’s 5th strongest state that year, he pulled in 5.95%. And his 3rd best state in 2004 with 1.37%.

  14. Andy

    “Austin CassidyPost author
    December 23, 2021 at 22:25
    Andy — Absolutely true. He got out there and sold the party in a way no other nominee has, before or since. His occasional appearances on Larry King and other cable outlets were probably the first time millions of Americans heard of the LP. (I actually voted for him in 2000.)”

    Ron Paul is without question the #1 recruiter into the libertarian movement, and possibly the Libertarain Party as well, but he did most of this while running for office as a Republican,; which gave him the opportunity to get a lot more publicity than Harry Browne, especially since Ron Paul was a sitting US House member when he ran for President in the Republican primaries.

    The internet was around when Harry Browne ran for President in 1996 and in 2000, but there were less people online back then, and this was before you could watch videos online. Just imagine what Harry Browne could have done after the internet got a lot bigger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *