The U.S. Electoral College Map Explained

Take a gander.

Since you always aced your social studies courses you already know the President needs 270 electoral votes out of the 538 up for grabs. The winner can lose darn near forty small states, win the most heavily populated ten plus, and be the first to tag the bible on January 20, 2013.

Show the above map to grade schoolers and ask who is likely to win. They’ll say the Red Team.

Even though you understand how the Electoral College works, you probably don’t know why some states tip blue and others red. That’s what I’m here for.

It all starts with cool ocean breezes in the Pacific, upper Atlantic, and Great Lakes region. Those cool breezes translate into more moderate temperatures especially on the West Coast and in the upper Northeast. In contrast, the great, red, middle swath of the country is mired in hot and humid summers and killer cold winters almost all the time. Ocean and Great Lake breezes and cool temps contribute to blood flow, heightened brain activity, and altogether clearer thinking. Sadly, over time, people living in the great, red, middle swath of the country develop cognitive deficits as a result of oppressive heat and humidity and dramatic temperature swings. The technical term for this is Climatic Induced Cognitive Deficit Disorder or CICDD.

Also, until the last presidential election, very few people knew that on clear days you can actually see Russia from the West Coast of the U.S. That proximity to Russia—coupled with shared suffering during earthquakes, mud slides, and forest fires—explains the more collectivist mindset of Left Coasters.

Then there’s dietary considerations. Reds don’t just like their heat, humidity, and bugs, they like breaded and fried meat casserole-based potlucks more specifically. All washed down with whole milk. Blues prefer roasted vegetables, fresh fruit, and wine. That explains the dramatic physical health divide, which like the climatological differences, translates into a mental health chasm. Eat well, be well, think well.

Then there’s preferred outdoor activities. This time of year Blues hike among trees and meditate silently upon their changing colors all while looking forward to snow shoeing and cross country skiing. Reds hike among trees too, in search of large defenseless animals to shoot and kill. Then they drag them home, bread them, and fry them. All while looking forward to firing up their snowmobiles and making lots of noise and pollution. Blue outdoor activities lead to enlightenment. Red to blight and lunacy.

Then there’s different artistic sensibilities. Blues prefer classical music, independent and foreign films, modern dance, national public radio, and The New Yorker. Reds, country and heavy metal, Arnold Schwarzenegger films, reality television, Fox News, and The Washington Times. Heightened enlightenment and even greater lunacy.

Class dismissed.

If I Was President

Put your hands in the air like you just don’t cair if you think I need some hair extensions, a guitar, single speed bike, and vid like this one. Why should Wyclef Jean be the only one to imagine being president?

My betrothed was thrilled to score a Thanksgiving dinner invite. Didn’t have to cook a turkey or interact too terribly much with the normal one. Early on one of the seven adults at the very nice dinner lamented that getting to the pool in the morning to swim was just “too complicated”. About every 45 minutes, no matter where we were in the conversation, we’d return to that theme usually in the form of my betrothed suggesting alternative activities to our unmotivated friend. For each suggested alternative she presented separate complexities. She was a reminder that it’s a lot easier not to exercise regularly.

It’s been almost four years since I shared ten suggestions on how to create an active lifestyle. Since you didn’t click on that link you won’t notice the overlap in what follows.

If I were president, I’d charm Congress into passing a law requiring every physically able adult to engage in an hour of cardiovascular activity before 8 a.m. Employers would have to push back early starts. Based on personal experience and a constant stream of research, one hour of exercise makes the remaining 15 lots better. Benefits include lower health costs, increased productivity, improved community, and increased well-being. Brisk uncomplicated walking, running, swimming, cycling, water aerobics, elliptical exercises, rowing, or any combination of those for sixty minutes.

I joked with our “too complicated” friend that Betrothed sleeps in her bathing suit to simplify her morning routine. The night before swim mornings I pack my backpack and toss my jammers where I get dressed in the morning. By wearing them under my pants, I save a good 45 seconds in the Y locker room. Too much info I know, but the larger point being . . .

1.) An efficient, successful morning exercise routine begins the night before. Organize your gear so you can almost sleep walk out the door in predawn darkness.

Other suggestions:

2) Gradually pull the plug earlier at night, turn off the tube, forget the foreplay, close the book, and go to bed early enough to compensate for the earlier start.

3) If going somewhere with lockers, consider renting one to simplify what you have to cart back and forth.

4) Start right outside your front door or make sure you can get to your gym within five minutes. I believe a lot of indoor exercisers would be surprised by how much more fun it is to be outside if they invested in some technical fitness duds and were forced to do it by say. . . El Presidente. Of course we’re spoiled in Olympia with excellent sidewalks, street lighting, and bike lanes.

5) Most important of all, find anyone similar in ability to exercise with. Mutual accountability + evolving friendships = much higher success rates.

This challenge is similar to decluttering—logical suggestions aren’t enough to tip the sedentary scale (pun intended). Unless our “too complicated” friend finds a training partner who she enjoys spending time with, suggestions 1-4 won’t make much difference. The conundrum is until a person is able to compare and contrast what it’s like to be out of shape and in shape, they’re unlikely to muster up the self-discipline to change their daily habits.

Try it. Pick something at least semi-enjoyable, invite a friend to enjoy you, and gradually build to one hour, six days a week, before the day starts in earnest. You won’t regret it.

For the serial sedentary among us, I’m going to hire the cast from a very good, but brutal movie Betrothed and I recently watched, Sin Nombre, to enforce the law. Better start now in case I’m elected on 11/6/12. Trust me, you don’t want those hombres knocking on your door asking what you’re still doing in your pajamas.