Map #49: July 24, 2017

Difficulty Level: 9

Click here for a full-size version of this week’s map.

July is Cal Poly Month here at Weekly Map. This map was made by an undergraduate student in Cal Poly’s data science program.

This map is a choropleth of the counties of the United States. (Do you need a refresher on what a choropleth is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) On this map, each county is shaded in accordance with a particular statistic. Counties with a darker shade of orange have higher values for the statistic in question. Your job is to figure out what statistic is represented by this choropleth.

Stumped? Check back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for hints about where to focus your investigation. The answer will be posted on Monday, July 31. Good luck!

Tuesday’s hint: One of the first things you’ll notice about this map is that there are some clear differences across state lines. For example, Oregon is clearly darker than Washington, even in counties that border each other. West Virginia is darker than neighboring counties in Virginia. Vermont and New Hampshire are dramatically different from Massachusetts, even the less populous parts of Massachusetts. These distinctions should suggest to you that the statistic in question is influenced in some way by policies adopted at the state level.

Wednesday’s hint: In general, more politically conservative areas of the U.S. are darker than liberal areas. But there is also a regional trend: the conservative parts of the Mountain West are much darker than the conservative parts of the South. Can you think of a hobby that might be more popular in Wyoming than in, say, Alabama?

Thursday’s hint: This map shows the total number of something found in each county divided by the number of people in that county. Let’s give you some raw numbers for a few salient counties. Loving County, Texas, has only 89 residents, and it has one of these things (1,123 of these per 100,000 people). Powder River County, Montana, has 8 for a population of 1,710 (467.8 per 100,000 people). At the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco County, California, has 5 (0.6 per 100,000 people); Suffolk County, Massachusetts, has 4 (0.5 per 100,000 people); and Kings County, New York has 8 (0.3 per 100,000 people). Which county has the highest absolute number? That would be the country’s most populous county, Los Angeles County, California. They have 281 of these things for a population that is nearing 10 million (that’s about 2.8 per 100,000 people).

Friday’s hint: Many of the darker counties on this map are places where hunting is common.

Answer: Click here to see an explanation of the answer to this week’s map question.

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