I was reading how the Obama campaign talked about the "net roots." How about we plot internet broadband penetration vs. Obama's percentage of the vote and well by state:
I added a perfect fit line that shows where the states would be if the two measures were perfectly correlated. The red linear trend line showed what the states actually turned to cluster around: it was not parallel, i.e., only a so-so correlation. I know that I probably should have used normalized numbers for both measures but I ran out of time. Still, I think this was very intriguing: it did seem to correlate not too badly. I identified the outliers on the Democratic side: DC (always heavily Democratic), Vermont (Socialist senator!) and Hawaii (Obama's childhood home state); on the Republican side: Alaska (Palin's home state), Utah (heavily Mormon) and Wyoming (Cheney's home state). These were expected. Look then for the states that displayed the best correlation between broadband penetration and Obama vote (from left to right): West Virginia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Montana, Missouri—still not officially settled!—, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota, Virginia, Oregon and New Jersey. They were a mixture of "toss-up" states (MO, NC, OH, VA) and "blue" (MN, OR, NJ) or "red" states (WV, MS, SC, MT). Note that the blue states were at the high end of the scale (to the right), the red ones at the bottom (to the left) and the toss-ups in the centre. Delaware (Biden's home state), Illinois (Obama's other home state) and Arizona (McCain's home state) ended up on their partisan side but not in an outspoken way.
I tried a second approach using the Obama minus McCain percentage of the vote:
The perfect fit line ran parallel to the blue trend line: a good correlation this time around. Overall, the distribution of the states was very similar to the previous graph. Conclusion: the higher the broadband penetration, the higher the Democratic vote seemed to be. I guess that does confirm some of the analyses of the election I read. Nevertheless, I have to caution to read too much in these graphs, the more since my grasp of this type of statistics is a bit shaky...
By the way, a "classic" face-off of broadband vs. Obama yielded this interesting result:
Broadband has been popular with Googlers for a long time. Obama was more a recent phenomenon that ended up overtaking broadband in aggregate.
Update 11-14-08: My statistical skills were indeed lacking. Look at the comments for corrections and the like.
mark.liberman.121 is not me
57 minutes ago