Counting up votes

TitlePolitical Map of the United States and Territories. 1888
CreatorThomas Campbell-Copeland
Dimensions24 × 34 cm
LocationLeventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library
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Since the late 19th century, map makers have experimented with various graphic techniques for displaying presidential election results. This map is one of the earliest and most complex attempts, published in anticipation of the 1888 election between Republican Benjamin Harrison and Democrat Grover Cleveland.

See another election map from 1892.
Wander across the exhibition →

The stack of bars in each state each represent a prior election year (1872, 1876, 1880, 1884, and 1888) and each is colored to show which party held the presidential majority (black for Republican, red for Democratic). The last bar in each state represents 1888, the year the map was published, and the legend suggests that the reader can fill in each bar with the correct color once the returns are completed.

In addition to the colored bars, this map uses dots to convey even more information. The black and red dots above the bars indicate which party holds the Governor’s seat; the dots below the bars show which party holds the majority in the State Senate and House. The dots with another smaller dot on top are to indicate the party affiliation of the current state senators, and state representatives are indicated by colored dots in the northeast corner of each state boundary.