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What The 2012 Election Would Have Looked Like Without Universal Suffrage

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These five maps look at how the 2012 election would have played out before everyone could vote.

President Barack Obama has been elected twice by a coalition that reflects the diversity of America. Republicans have struggled to win with ever-higher percentages of the shrinking share of the population that is white men — "a Mad Men party in a Modern Family world," in the words of one strategist.

But at America's founding, only white men could vote, and the franchise has only slowly expanded to include people of color, women, and — during the Vietnam War — people under 21. These maps show how American politics would have looked in that undemocratic past.

Map 1: 1850

Map 1: 1850

Before 1870, only white men could vote. Here's how the election would have looked before the 15th Amendment.

Map 2: 1870

Map 2: 1870

From 1870 to 1920, only men could vote. Under that scenario, the electoral map would have looked something like this.

Map 3: 1920

Map 3: 1920

While women's suffrage passed in 1920, there were still huge impediments to minorities to vote during that period, for instance in the form of poll taxes (only finally outlawed by the 24th Amendment in 1964). So here's a version of the map that shows only white voters, men and women.


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