I got the following in the email:

Bush-Obama America

There are 272 Bush-Obama counties across the country. George W. Bush carried these counties in 2000 and 2004. In 2008, Barack Obama won them. Now where do they go in 2012? I [David Dent] am launching a blog to focus on these pivotal counties to the outcome of the Presidential Election on November 6. After Barack Obama turned these counties blue in 2008, I began a journey to explore the state of the American Dream in Purple America, which is the subject of my next book. We begin presenting views of these slices of America, with the mission of sharing the voices of the everyday people who will decide the election. On April 2, we will expand to the presentation of video portraits of at least three Bush-Obama counties a week. The blog’s journey will take you to more than 40 American states to meet a diverse group of people who represent a dynamic and transformative element of America.

As qualitative reporting, this might be just fine—-I have no idea—-but for the goal of understanding American voters and the election, there’s no particular reason to focus on these swing counties. Given recent political history, we can expect the vote swing from 2008 to 2012 to be approximately uniform, which means you could look just about anywhere for the anticipated 4%-or-so swing toward the Republicans this year.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

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Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.