The Iowa Caucuses

If you did not realise it, today is the first day of the second phase of the American presidential election process. Phase 1 was all the posturing and getting-to-know-me stuff from every candidate. A few dropped out, but now the first votes will be placed in the cold and later tonight snowy town centres of Iowa. The big story for Iowa is can Trump fend off Cruz and can Hillary fend off Bernie. (I like how we can clearly delineate the two parties by whether we use surnames or given names.)

I love election season and in particular the visualisations that go along with them. But I have been making a conscious effort not to go overboard. But that phase is over, so today we look at FiveThirtyEight’s range plots that I have enjoyed for some time now.

Who will be first in Iowa?
Who will be first in Iowa?

They are sort of like a more intuitive version of the familiar box plot. Your highest probability falls within the red—what other colour did you expect—and the average value is denoted. But you can also see that the curves are asymmetric. In short, anybody from Carson up really has a shot. But expect to see Trump or Cruz on top in Iowa.

The race, however, is not quite as exciting on the Democratic side. However, much like I am surprised that Trump is not just still running, but leading, I am surprised about Bernie Sanders’ strength. While he is further behind than Cruz is behind Trump, it is still quite possible for Iowa to “feel the Bern” as they say.

The Democratic plots
The Democratic plots

There are of course other visualisation pieces out there—on this page even—but how about we ease into the commentary? After the presidential election is much more a marathon than a sprint. Anyway, I guess we will all see how accurate these plots are come this time Tuesday.

Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight design team.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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