If America voted the way that it bought books, then Willard Mitt Romney would be a very, very happy man indeed.
With everyone in America beginning to get Election Fever ahead of the race getting started in earnest with next week’s Republican National Convention – Well, that or Election Burnout; it really depends on how closely you’ve been paying attention to the race so far – it shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise to find out that everyone is trying to find some way to offer their own brand of unique political commentary to add to the breathless and heated discussions that will undoubtedly be going on across dinner tables, dimly-lit bars and any and every kind of social gathering point in the United States between now and November. Into this landscape of potential conversational landmines steps Amazon.com, with its “Amazon Election Heat Map 2012,” which lets you see whether states are ordering political screeds that lean left, or right, and what percentage of which.
“Our 2012 Election Heat Map colors each state according to the percentage of red and blue book purchases, based on shipping address, that have been made on Amazon.com during the past 30 days,” the site explains. “We take the top-selling political books on Amazon.com and categorize them as ‘red,’ ‘blue,’ or neutral. We classify books as red or blue if they have a political leaning made evident in book promotion material and/or customer classification, such as tags. We compute percentages, updated daily, for each state and the US by comparing the 250 best-selling blue books during the time period against the 250 best-selling red books during the same time period, including new book launches.” Different sales formats are counted in different calculations, although Amazon reports that “all orders during the period are given equal weighting in the calculation.”
Somewhat amazingly, only five states in the entire US have a more left-leaning bias overall than right, and even more amazingly, none of those states are traditionally-assumed liberal strongholds like California or Oregon. No, the five states that are buying more “blue” books than “red” are New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington DC, and DC is the only location where “blue” books have a significant edge (Currently, it’s 68 percent to 32 percent). Overall, at time of writing, the US is leaning towards “red” purchases, with 57 percent of purchases trending conservative. The reddest of red states, according to Amazon’s calculations, is Mississippi, with 73 percent of purchases being “red” books (Current top seller: The Kindle edition of Edward Klein’s Obama administration exposeThe Amateur).
Whether this map will offer any true value in the days and weeks ahead remains to be seen. After all, as Amazon itself points out, its customers “read widely and often buy books that don’t necessarily fit with their own views.” But still: It’s fun to see where the nation’s readers’ heads are at right now, isn’t it?