Scary Election Statistics

Mostly False: "Interesting Facts Concerning the Presidential Election"

Divided Country of Red and Blue states
Tooga/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Versions of a viral text circulating since 2000 purport to analyze the results of the most recent U.S. presidential election in terms of the population density and murder rates of states that voted predominantly Democrat vs. those that voted Republican. The statistics are erroneous and the appended comments from law professor Joseph Olson are misattributed.

Description: Forwarded email / Viral text
Circulating since: 2000
Status: Mostly false (see details below)

2012 version:
As shared on Facebook, March 7, 2013:

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some INTERESTING FACTS CONCERNING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION:

Number of States won by:
Democrats: 19 Republicans: 29
Square miles of land won by:
Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by:
Democrats: 127 Million Republicans: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Democrats: 13.2 Republicans: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Republicans won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare...."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase. If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegals and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

IF YOU ARE IN FAVOR OF THIS, BY ALL MEANS, DON'T SHARE. IF YOU ARE NOT then SHARE IT to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.



2008 version:
Email contributed by Stacey E., Dec. 11, 2008:

Unreported '08 Election Stats

INTERESTING FACTS --- Some unreported stats about the 2008 election

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2008 Presidential election:

-Number of States won by: Democrats: 20; Republicans: 30

-Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000; Republicans: 2,427,000

-Population of counties won by: Democrats: 127 million; Republicans: 143 million

-Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Democrats: 13.2; Republicans: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Republican won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens. Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in rented or government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

--------------------------------

Notice that only in the states of Alaska and Oklahoma: All counties were won by McCain/Palin.



2004 version:
Email contributed by Richard L., Jan. 21, 2004:

Interesting... here is a thought-provoking, history-related message......

At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the most recent Presidential election:

Population of counties won:
by Gore, 127 million;
by Bush, 143 million;

Square miles of land won:
by Gore, 580,000;
by Bush, 2,427,000;

States won:
by Gore, 19;
by Bush, 29;

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won:
by Gore, 13.2;
by Bush, 2.1.

Professor Olson adds, "In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was (mostly) the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare.."

Olson believes the U.S. is now somewhere between the "apathy" and the "complacency" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy; with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.



2000 version:
Email contributed by Burnell Y., Dec. 21, 2000:

Subject: Facts

Very interesting facts .. especially the last one!

Make of it whatever you will.
Important statistics:

Population of counties won by Gore: 127 million
Population of counties won by Bush: 143 million

Square miles of country won by Gore: 580,000
Square miles of country won by Bush: 2,427,000

States won by Gore: 19
States won by Bush: 29

Number of counties won by Gore: 677
Number of counties won by Bush: 2470

Average Murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore: 13.2
Average Murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Bush: 2.1

Professor Joseph Olson
Hamline University School of Law
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104-1235



Analysis: This misleading assemblage of facts and figures was somewhat accurate when it first began circulating in 2000 but became entirely false when it reappeared verbatim in 2004, citing precisely the same data under the pretext of interpreting that years' election results.

Needless to say, those numbers are also inaccurate for 2008 and 2012.

Comparing the email's statistics to those reported by USA Today and Associated Press, we find some of the claims to be roughly correct for Nov. 2000:

ACTUAL REPORTED STATS

Population of counties won by Gore: 133,000,000
Population of counties won by Bush: 148,000,000

Square miles of country won by Gore: 577,029
Square miles of country won by Bush: 2,432,603

States won by Gore: 20
States won by Bush: 30

Number of counties won by Gore: 674
Number of counties won by Bush: 2,439

When it comes to the Average Murder Rates per 100,000 in the counties won by Gore vs. those won by Bush, however, the figures in the email were either erroneously calculated or outright fabricated. Since the actual numbers are available as raw data only from government sources, I'll rely on some number-crunching previously done by David Mikkelson of Snopes.com based on Dept. of Justice data from 1999 and 2000:

Average murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore: 6.5
Average murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by Bush: 4.1

There's a difference, as you can plainly see, but the actual discrepancy between the murder rates of the two voting blocs is much smaller than the 13.2 per 100,000 (Gore) vs. 2.1 per 100,000 (Bush) reported in the text.

Prof. Joseph Olson of 'Hemline' University

There is a Professor Joseph Olson at the Hamline University School of Law (misspelled "Hemline University" in some versions of the viral text), but he had nothing to do with the writing of this text or any of the data it contains. "It is entirely BOGUS as to my authorship," he wrote years ago on his Hamline faculty page. "I have been trying to kill it since December 2000."

Obviously without success.



"In aggregate," the text misquotes Olson as saying, "the map of the territory Bush won was (mostly) the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare...."

Not only is that patently false, not only did Olson not say it, the statement smacks of partisan smear-mongering to boot. It's an intentional slap in the face to the roughly half of all U.S. citizens who voted Democratic in the 2000 election, and who are painted in this email as murderous, tenement-dwelling welfare leeches.

Small wonder the actual author did not see fit to sign his or her own name.

The Fall of the Athenian Republic

Some versions of the email quote a passage attributed to Scottish history professor "Alexander Tyler" asserting that great civilizations always progress through a series of stages beginning with bondage, peaking in a state of liberty and abundance, then devolving through complacency and apathy back to to bondage again.

Democracies fail when voters learn they can "vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." This was supposedly the fate of the Athenian Republic, and, by implication, will be America's.

For the record, the professor's name was actually Alexander Tytler, and though he was indeed an accomplished 18th-century author, historian, and lawyer of 19th-century Scotland, his authorship of the passage, which doesn't seem to have appeared anywhere in print prior to the 20th century, is very much in doubt.

Sources and further reading:

Don't Believe, or Pass On, All You Read
The Citizen, 17 January 2001

Internet Legend Haunts Hamline Professor
Associated Press, 8 May 2006

2000 Election Results County-by-County
USA Today, 20 November 2000

2008 Election Results County-by-County
Outside the Beltway, 5 November 2008

The Fall of the Athenian Republic
Urban Legends Reference Pages, 30 December 2008

The Truth About Tytler
by Loren Collins

Last updated: 03/08/13