People vote, not trees or rocks or territories. While the Electoral College helps small states to a limited degree, it is the population of the several states that matters most. This is the theory behind University of Virginia Professor Larry J. Sabato's Political Map of the United States. Sabato, who is the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, notes that this is what politicians, their staffs and political consultants actually see when they look at a map of our nation. This particular projection is based on the 2000 Census, and it clearly shows that the smaller states in the country's midsection and Rocky Mountain area are squeezed between the enormous growth on the west coast, the still sizeable Northeast, and the expanding South and border states. Most readers will be surprised to see just how far the Northeast extends into the interior United States -- essentially to the Mississippi River. The South sprawls to the Rocky Mountains and is of course dominated by two mega-states - Texas and Florida. The Midwest is the most mixed region with large industrial states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois mixing with smaller farm belt states such as the Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska. The West is dominated almost entirely by the super-state of California. Also, it should be noted that the areas of Alaska and Hawaii have been altered to reflect their respective shares of the U.S. population. Hawaii is close to "real" size, while geographically gargantuan Alaska appears smaller here than the diminutive state of Rhode Island.
A final version of the map puts the Bush-Gore 2000 race into perspective. Looking at a territorial map of the United States, it appears that George W. Bush won a sweeping majority. That is a misrepresentation, however, because he carried most of the large, but lightly populated states throughout the country. This political map of the United States shows just how close the race really was, with Gore's political territory matching Bush's in proportionate size.
Given current census projections, a similar political map of the US drawn in 2011 will demonstrate these same trends to an even greater degree, giving politicians and their consultants alike an even more extreme picture to contemplate.