There Were No True "Red" Or "Blue" States
Today, the country's division into red and blue states is so entrenched that we're pretty sure California would rather vote for the literal devil than a Republican. But the whole red and blue division has only formed in the last two decades. Before that, a presidential candidate still had a reasonable chance of winning just about any one state in any given election. Take a look at this Electoral College results map from the 1992 presidential election:
English Wikipedia user Nkocharh“Yeah, but Ross Perot changed that year.” -- You, before suddenly realizing that in 1992, an independent candidate had a realistic shot.
Back in 1992, now deeply red states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Montana, West Virginia, *gasps for air* and Louisiana all voted for Bill Clinton. Let's take a look at the battle map in 1996:
Wiki CommonsNotice the presence of differences from map to map? Seems almost impossible to imagine today.
Same Clinton, yet lots of flipped states. It's almost as if back then, people reacted to the actual political landscape instead of blindly rooting for their team, even though they knew the quarterback had bone spurs and was into some disgusting locker room talk. No map shows this "results over party" mindset more than the one from 1988:
Wiki Commons No way this could end in a brutal reelection defeat!
That's right, even California voted for milquetoast George H.W. Bush, just to keep the Reagan party going. Also, a strange thing used to happen in American politics: very close calls, where politicians had to fight for every single vote. In the 1976 election, there were 20 states with a winning margin of five points or less. And during the 1960s, nearly all the largest states were toss-ups, which would be unimaginable today. In the 2000 presidential election, the number of states won with five points or less was down to 12. In the 2012 election, it was down to four. Between political polarization, public indifference, and some serious gerrymandering, it really feels like America no longer has any wiggle room. And wiggling, as we all know, is the very cornerstone of democracy.
Climate Change Wasn't Nearly As Political
The American public is allowed two opinions on climate change: We can pretend it doesn't exist, or we can cower in the corner with an ice cream tub. 232 out of 435 congresspeople and 53 out of 100 senators don't think that humankind is affecting the climate, and the current president has said that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to destroy good old American manufacturing power.