Democrats (and pollsters) predicted a mighty gust blowing the country left this year, in response to the rightward gale that swept President Trump into office. Instead of a corresponding tempest, however, the country barely puffed just enough in a few places to lift Joe Biden over the top.
You can see the changes in the blowing particles on this map. The red flowing right is greater support for Trump than in 2016.
The blue jetting left shows more Democratic lean than four years ago.
The vertical purple lines — not red-right, not blue-left — show the huge share of areas that held pat on partisan stance this year. Most show turnout up but with little political change. More voters in an area put more particles on the map.
When the map shifts to moving just left and right, you see the vast majority of changes favored Democrats. Only eight states (and the District of Columbia) voted more Republican than in 2016. Some of the biggest blows to the left are across Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Kansas and Nebraska. In the East the blues blew strongest from eastern Pennsylvania up to Massachusetts.
Suburbs and medium-size cities blew farther left, about 10 percent. Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and Florida showed gales to the right.
Looking just up or down, you see ballot counts were up virtually everywhere. This shows how the record turnout was distributed around the country. Turnoutdecreased from 2016 in less than two percent of counties.
Combining turnout and partisan swing, you see South Florida, much of Arkansas and the southern tip of Texas blew right for Trump. Los Angeles and the area around Sacramento moved slightly right.
The election hinged on the suburban areas of Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia that howled left to favor Biden. Suburbs nationwide moved left.
Compared to this year, the 2016 map portrays a blizzard blowing right for Trump across the country. Even areas that voted for Hillary Clinton gave her much less support than Barack Obama had received.
Many areas that flowed right in 2016 stayed there or swirled slightly to the left in 2020.
Change from 2012 to 2016
Change from 2016 to 2020
A closer look at a pivotal region
Trump and Biden both thought the winner would have to carry the Northern Tier states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, plus nearby Pennsylvania. Each was decided by less than two percentage points in 2016.
The gust blowing suburbs and medium-size cites left across that region carried Biden to victory. They flowed Democratic by 11 percent in Michigan and 9 percent in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Georgia suburbs power leftward move
Georgians swept left in all parts of the state, gentle breezes in the rural areas, a 10-percent gust in Atlanta, and a gale 22 percent shift in the suburbs around Atlanta and Savannah. Purple puffs show the rural areas that held steady in Republican support, but they were no match for the blue Atlanta cyclone.
About this story
Data for the maps is from the the final tabulations but not certified results in all places. Data provided by Edison Research. Turnout change included an adjustment for growth in adult population. Partisan change was measured as an odds ratio comparison of voting Democratic or Republican in 2020 compared to the same in 2016. Large city, suburban, medium city and rural groupings are combined county-level classifications from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Each particle’s speed and direction is determined by the change in Democratic share of the vote and turnout since the previous presidential election at its current location (using county-level results except in Alaska).
Kevin Schaul, Emily Liu and Daniel Hoerauf contributed data analysis.
Tim Meko designs and develops maps, data visualizations and explanatory graphics. Before coming to The Post, he led the visuals team at the Urban Institute and was an infographics artist at the Columbus Dispatch.