Beyond Red, Blue (and even Purple): CSM's New "Patchwork Nation" Page

The Christian Science Monitor has just published a "Patchwork Nation" page designed for viewing the 2008 presidential election from the perspective of 11 geographically clustered "voter communities" defined according to a variety of religious, socio-economic, and cultural variables. Based upon the GIS analysis of James Gimpel (Professor of Government and Politics here at the University of Maryland), the page features a map with 3,142 counties color-coded as being statistically most like one of the 11 community types.
The map is also interactive, allowing the user to control which communities are displayed and whether or not counties lines are hidden or displayed. They are also tracking candidate visits to see what kind of voter communities the candidates are targeting. They are vague as to what else they have planned, but their stated intention is "to watch 11 different presidential elections unfold at the same time in real time, to see which issues matter to different kinds of communities and how the candidates change their messages depending on their audience." Sounds like text mining and/or automated content analysis may be in the works as well.

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