During the U.S. Civil War period states were often categorized as northern, southern, or border, slave or free. How are U.S states categorized today? What purpose do these categories serve?
Categorization during Civil War
To answer this question one has to clarify the meaning of the word “categorize”. Regarding Longmann (1995:201) categorize means: “[...] to put people or things into groups according to what type they are, or to say which group they are in [...]”. So whenever we put persons into groups, according to certain facts, we unconsciously categorize them.
As late as 1808, when the international slave trade was abolished, many thought that slavery would soon end. But the South became strongly united behind the establishment of slavery as new economic factors made slavery far more profitable than it had been before. The reason for their decision was the rise of a great cotton-growing industry. Sugarcane and tobacco, two labor-intensive crops, also enhanced slavery's extension (U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from http://usa.usembassy.de/history-civilwar.htm ).
The country was divided into states permitting slavery and states prohibiting it. In 1820, politicians debated the question of whether slavery would be legal in the western territories. So during the U.S. Civil War the categorization of states served as a identification possibility. Furthermore the states were as already mentioned, divided in two groups, the Confederate States of America, which was set up by eleven southern slave states whereas the Union was supported by 20 free states and five border slave states (U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from http://usa.usembassy.de/history-civilwar.htm ). The states fought against each other, depending on their categorization either Union or Confederate.
One possibility to put American states into categories, is to categorize the states according to their political views. The state's population can either support one of the republican candidates, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum (2012 Republican Candidates. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://2012.republican-candidates.org/ ) or one of the democratic candidates, Barack Obama or Randall Terry (2012 Democratic Candidates. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://2012.democratic-candidates.org/ ).
They are also some Independent candidates, but they do not play a major role in the elections 2012. The United States Constitution prescribes that a presidential election is to be held once every fourth year. But the process of electing a president and vice-president, begins long before the real election day. The nominating process within the political parties officially begins with the first state primaries and caucuses, which usually take place
in the month of February of the election year. These primaries and caucuses choose slates of delegates to represent the state at the national party conventions. At the national party conventions, traditionally held in the summer, the delegates from the states cast votes to select the party's candidate for president (Ben's Guide to U.S Government. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from http://bensguide.gpo.gov/9-12/election/primary.html ).
Within the last 20 years a trend is to be seen regarding the election preferences of some states. Since 1984 in Texas for example, only republican candidates won the elections.
In contrast to that since 1992 only democratic candidates won the elections in California (U.S. Electoral College. Retrieved January 28, 2012, from http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/historical.html ).