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Why Hillary Lost and the Media Failed to See It Coming, in Two Maps

Q: “If you want your child to grow up clueless about mainstream white (1) America, what are the ZIP codes that have the best track record?” (2)

A: “The country’s most prosperous, highly educated” ZIPs (“Super ZIPs”) shown in this map based on U.S. Census data by The Washington Post. (3)


The areas that voted for Hillary, and in which most media is owned and operated, are shown in blue in this map.(4)

Any questions?



(1) From PBS News Hour, What Does Your Bubble Quiz Score Say About You?

One of my central propositions in my 2012 book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” was that a high-IQ, highly educated new upper class has formed over the last half century. It has a culture of its own that is largely disconnected from the culture of mainstream white America. I could expect that many of my readers would be part of that new upper class. The problem that stumped me for a while was how to convince them that their isolation is real. Eventually, I decided to try self-recognition. And so Chapter 4 of “Coming Apart” was titled “How Thick is Your Bubble?” and contained a 25-item quiz that let readers see for themselves where they stood on a 100-point scale. The lower their scores, the thicker the cultural bubble that separated them from the lives of ordinary Americans.

A few months after “Coming Apart” was published, Paul Solman interviewed me for Making Sen$e. Paul and his staff also created a version of the bubble quiz that could be taken online. Just two weeks ago, Paul interviewed me again and posted an updated version of the bubble quiz on this page. As I write, more than 47,000 people have posted their scores. Along with their scores, most of them also reported their ages, current ZIP codes and the ZIP codes where they lived when they were 10 years old.

At the outset, we need to get one thing straight: The bubble quiz does not try to test your familiarity with all of mainstream America, but with mainstream white America. Here’s how I explained it in “Coming Apart”:

Some of the questions are ones that whites will get right more often than minorities, and that people who do not live in metropolises will get right more often than people who do. That’s because I am writing about the problems of the new upper class, the new upper class is overwhelmingly white and urban, and the readers of this book are overwhelmingly white and urban. Note, however, that had I included questions that would be more easily answered by minorities in working-class urban neighborhoods, your score would probably be even worse.

(2) Did You Grow Up In A Bubble?  These Zip Codes Suggest You Did, PBS News Hour

(3) Washington: A World Apart,The Washington Post

(4) Maps of 2016 Election Results, Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan. Updated: November 10, 2016


9 thoughts on “Why Hillary Lost and the Media Failed to See It Coming, in Two Maps

  1. In Susan Sontag’s famous interview about America in the 60s, she already mentions the east coast elite being different to the rest of Americans, who “believe what Goldwater believes”. She says the only reason JFK won was a depolitized electorate that at the time was mostly concerned with local issues.

    In what ways is the current situation novel?


    Posted by jose | November 19, 2016, 1:22 pm


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