Quick: What’s wrong with this electoral map?

Santos map

I mean, aside from it being about a fictional election.

Yes, I’m still obsessing about the absurdity of Democrat Matt Santos winning South Carolina in the seventh season of “The West Wing.” I don’t care that none of y’all were interested enough to comment on it yesterday. I’m interested enough for all of us.

During my workout this morning, in “Election Day Part II,” I learned one more supposed reason why the Democratic presidential nominee won SC (in addition to the two I mentioned yesterday, neither of which was convincing): It was mentioned (by the opposition) that Santos had spent so much time in SC, he could have been living here.

Well, that certainly would have been a departure from what we’re used to seeing — a Democratic presidential nominee actually visiting South Carolina.

But I don’t think it would make the difference. It would take a lot more than that, which is why Democratic presidential nominees don’t come to South Carolina during the general campaign.

I’m with Josh Lyman, who understood that there was something wrong if his guy was losing Vermont, but winning SC. He sort of freaked out about it, and who could blame him? His writers had put him in an impossible situation. Would Aaron Sorkin (who did not write these later episodes) have done that? I don’t think so.

Look at the map above. The Democrat lost California, but won SC? Mind you, there were extraordinary reasons for this. First, it was Vinick‘s home state. Second, Leo’s death was announced with another hour of voting to go in California. OK, fine — but if West Coast voters were balking at Santos because of Leo, then how did he win Oregon and Washington state?

You can see at a glance how SC sticks out like a sore thumb in blue. The Democrat would win Virginia or North Carolina or Florida way before winning here. It just doesn’t add up…

19 thoughts on “Quick: What’s wrong with this electoral map?

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Eh, I never really thought much about the electoral map during that point in the show. I mean, you knew that Santos was going to win. They weren’t going to have Josh’s candidate lose after they had put so much time and energy into promoting that story-line.

      Going into reality, I have a hard time believing that Santos wouldn’t have won Texas, either. Yeah, he was from Texas, but so what? Al Gore was from Tennessee, and he didn’t carry Tennessee. Texas is too red for it to be plausibly carried by Santos. But whatever, it’s fictional electoral math. I have a hard time getting fired up for real electoral math.

      But yeah, SC being blue (and not NC or VA) just makes no sense. It’s less logical than Santos carrying Texas.

      The whole Vinnick/Santos campaign felt like a spin-off of the West Wing. I watched it more out of sense of “Well, I guess I have to finish watching this whole thing now.” than anything else. No one likes a quitter.

      1. Ryan

        I am pretty sure that I remember hearing that the plan all along was for Vinick to win the race. It wasn’t until after Leo died in real life that they decided that Santos would win the election. The writers felt that they could kill off Leo’s character AND have Santos lose the election in such a short period of time.

    2. Juan Caruso

      What is wrong? Just consider, for entertainment purposes, the subliminal “coatail effect” implied by the fictitious electoral map.

      The map blends wishful thinking with political angst (reality) regardless of a viewer’s political bent. For many years now, elites have predicted a Democratich turnaround in SC (see map).

      More recently, 4 states have been widely identified as toss-up states for the 2014 senate races. KY, LA and NC are three with which most are familiar. While inapplicable to senate races, the electoral map is subliminally provocative for Democratich and Republichan viewers alike:
      Alaska R, Arkansas R, Colorado D, Iowa D, Kansas R, Kentucky R, Louisiana R, North Carolina R.

  1. Andrew G

    There was a good bit implausible about the West Wing, especially the last few seasons.

    TV does that.

    Ever seen the series Friday Night Lights? Great concept, and it ‘gets’ small town, rural America as well as any modern TV program can. Anyone familiar with the dominant role that a high school football team plays in communities like Irmo, Spartanburg, Hartsville, etc. would recognize a lot of it.

    Yet I couldn’t get through the first season, because I made the mistake of watching a few episodes at a time on Netflix.

    In the first season, taking place roughly from late August through early December, we get:

    – star QB breaks his neck, becomes paralyzed, goes through rehab, and is playing on a wheelchair basketball team within weeks

    – star linebacker is a strung out, probable alcoholic, who can’ really function in a high school class setting

    – Car Dealer / athletic booster / small town big wig crashes and burns several times
    – black running back from public housing has a drug incident, but somehow gets back on the team and succeeds
    – racial incident / black players walk out and then back on the team
    – good, Christian girl cheerleader dumps paralyzed QB for drunk linebacker, then has it out with lots of folks

    And high school football team comes back to win the state championship

    I mean, I get it is drama and all, but wow, that’s a LOT to have happen in a few weeks of a HS season.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, and while most of y’all won’t agree with me, I’ve gotta say, football just isn’t THAT interesting…

      I pick on this one flaw (and there are some others, such as the absurdity of having presidential elections in 2002 and 2006, which is bizarre, like something on an alternative Earth or something) because mostly the series is so well thought-out and convincing…

      1. Norm Ivey

        Sports Night was a solid show that lasted only two seasons. It’s a sports show that wasn’t about sports, and there wasn’t a weak performer in the cast. It’s on Netflix DVD or Amazon pay-per-episode.

        Wonderfalls is one of the best series you’ve never seen. Lasted one season, but worth a weekend of binge watching. A jaded young woman living in a trailer park and selling Niagara Falls souvenirs gets lessons from inanimate objects on how to live her life. On Netflix DVD.

        I really liked Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor) in Early Edition, which of course brings to mind Quantum Leap, which may be my favorite TV show of all time. All the cool music has been cut out of the syndicated/online versions and it suffers because of it. I really, REALLY wish they’d do a movie to resolve Sam Beckett’s journey……

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      I think, like a lot of series, it took a while to hit its stride. Lots of folks with similar taste to mine like it. I might try again. The football plus teen angst stuff of the pilot put me off.
      We are currently watching Deadwood, having become used to the f-bomb on so many other shows. It’s pretty engrossing, once you get past the language.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Deadwood is very underrated. If they toned down the cursing, it would have probably had wider success. You could take out all the cursing, and the dialogue would still be fine.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I read that they used the anachronistic vulgarities because real cursing, profanities (taking the Lord’s name in vain), lacks any punch any more, damn it!

      2. Doug Ross

        Hell On Wheels is very good.. post Civil War drama about building the transcontinental railroad. Plenty of great characters.

        And I just binged through 10 episodes of the new Amazon series Transparent starring Jeffrey Tambor as a father of three adult children who decides to go public as a transvestite. It’s the “Orange Is The New Black” for this year. Well acted, good story, R-rated content.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    I really liked Friday Night Lights. Coach Taylor is a great character. Watching him deal with all of the egos, high expectations, and problems is pretty much the best part of the show. Seeing him act as both a coach to the high school boys (father figure) and as an actual father to his high school age daughter is a great dynamic of the show. His lines are well written.

    You know the way that Martin Sheen’s character really MAKES the West Wing? That’s what Kyle Chandler’s character does for Friday Night Lights. (For me, anyway.)

  3. Andrew

    Yeah, that’s it. The ww campaign was basically a spin off, the Laverne and Shirley to the west wings happy days .

    Coach chandler is a great character, I just can’t mentally compress all of the drama into a Labor Day through early December hs schedule

    1. barry

      I thought Friday Night Lights was beyond ludicrous.

      Silly drama- overplayed – 10 Presidents don’t have the drama that Friday Night Lights portrayed in 1 week.

      TV does a terrible job portraying football and athletics. Football coaches have LOT of DULL times too – a lot of them.

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