Predicting the Electoral College

Well the Democratic DC primaries were last Tuesday and Hillary Clinton won. So now we start looking ahead towards the July conventions and then the November elections. Consequently, if a day is an eternity in politics we have many lifespans to witness before November. But that does not mean we cannot start playing around with electoral college scenarios.

The Wall Street Journal has a nice scenario prediction page that leads with the 2012 results map, in both traditional map and cartogram form. You can play god and flip the various states to either red or blue. But from the interaction side the designers did something really interesting. Flipping a state requires you to click and hold the state. But the speed with which it then flips is not equal for all states. Instead, the length of hold time depends upon the state’s likelihood to be a flippable state, based on the state’s partisan voter index. For example, if you try and flip Kansas, you will have to wait awhile to see the state turn blue. But try and flip North Carolina and the flip is near instantaneous.

Starting with the 2012 cartogram
Starting with the 2012 cartogram

While the geographic component remains on the right, the left-hand column features either text, or as in this other screenshot, smaller charts that illustrate the points more specifically.

Charts and cartograms and text, oh my
Charts and cartograms and text, oh my

Taken all together, the piece does a really nice job of presenting users with a tool to make predictions of their own. The different sections with concepts and analysis guide the user to see what scenarios fall within the realm of reason. But, what takes the cake is that flipping interaction. Using a delay to represent the likelihood of a flip is brilliant.

Credit for the piece goes to Aaron Zitner, Randy Yeip, Julia Wolfe, Chris Canipe, Jessia Ma, and Renée Rigdon.

Not All Charts Are Necessary Part 2

The table option
The table option

Monday I examined a chart from the BBC that in my mind needlessly added confusing visual components to what could have been a straight table. So here we take a look at some other options that could have been used to tell the same story. The first is the straight forward table approach. Here I emphasised the important number, that of those killed. I opted to de-emphasise the years and the injured in the table. Also, since the bulk of my audience is from the United States, I used the two-letter states codes.

But let us presume we want a graphic because everyone wants everything to be visual and graphic. Here are two different options. The first takes the table/graphic from the BBC and converts it into a straight stacked bar chart, again with emphasis on the dead. I consolidated the list into a single column so one need not split their reading across both the horizontal and vertical.

As a stacked bar chart
As a stacked bar chart

And then if you examine the dates, one can find an interesting component of the data. Of the top-eight shootings, all but two occurred within the last ten years. So the second version takes the graphic component of the stacked bars from the first and places them on a timeline.

In a timeline
In a timeline

For those that wonder about the additional effort needed to create three different options from one data set, I limited myself to an hour’s worth of time. A little bit of thought after examining the data set can save a lot of time when trying to design the data display.

Basketball Finals

So the basketball finals begin tonight with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the Golden State Warriors. This is also the part of the post where I fully admit I know almost nothing about basketball. I did, however, catch this so-labelled infographic from ESPN contrasting the two teams.

Point differential
Point differential

What I appreciate at this piece is that ESPN labelled it an infographics. And while the data might be at times light, this is more a data-rich experience than most infographics these days. Additionally the design degrades fairly nicely as your browser reduces in size.

The chart formats themselves are not too over-the-top (that seemed like a decent basketball pun when I typed it out) with bars, line, and scatter plots. Player illustrations accent the piece, but do not convey information as data-encoded variables. I quibble with the rounded bar charts for the section on each team’s construction, but the section itself is fascinating.

I might not know most of the metrics’ definitions, but I did not mind reading through the piece.

Go Red Sox.

Credit for the piece goes to Luke Knox and Cun Shi.

World Income

Over the weekend I found myself curious about the notion of a growing global middle class. So I dug up some data from the Pew Research Center and did some analysis. The linked piece here details that analysis.

The growth in middle income populations
The growth in middle income populations

I go into more detail than just a map. Hopefully you enjoy the piece and find the analysis informative if not useful.

Credit goes to myself on this one.

Long-distance Amtrak

Today’s post is not super complex, but we all know I am a sucker for transit. Especially Amtrak. Back home on the East Coast, it runs both quickly and reliably along the Northeast Corridor and the Keystone Corridor. But as this graphic from the Wall Street Journal shows, that does not quite hold up for the longer distance Amtrak routes. Why? Freight trains.

Long distance is always difficult
Long distance is always difficult

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.

Europe’s Far-right Parties

On Sunday, Austria narrowly elected a former Green Party leader as president over the leader of the Freedom Party, a far-right party that surged in part because of the impact of Europe’s migrant and refugee crisis. The New York Times took a look at just how often and by how much far-right parties have succeeded in European countries in recent years.

There's more red than there used to be
There’s more red than there used to be

What I really like about this piece is that while they could have stopped at the above graphic, they opted to not. Some of the graphics above then introduce a section specific to the politics of the particular country, e.g. France and the rise of the National Front and Marine Le Pen.

France in detail
France in detail

Credit for the piece goes to Gregor Aisch, Adam Pearce, and Bryant Rousseau.

The Middle Class is Getting Poorer

At least relatively speaking. Today’s post is a Bloomberg article comprised primarily of charts with pithy titles summarising the data story. If listicle is a word for articles consisting of the Top-10 things about [whatever], do we start embracing charticle as the word for chart-driven stories? Even if we do, we should take note that this piece was not the work of one person, but four.

The Middle Class' share of wealth
The Middle Class’ share of wealth

The story captures my attention to and dovetails nicely into yesterday’s piece about a possible electoral path for Donald Trump to take the White House later this autumn.

Bonus points for the responsive nature of the post.

Credit for the piece goes to Andre Tartar, Mira Rojanasakul, Jeremy Diamond, and John Fraher.

Party Demographics

Alas, these are not the fun type of parties, but the two main US political ones. But overall, before some more primary and caucus votes tomorrow, I think this Wall Street Journal piece nicely captures and illustrates the changes in and the differences between the bases of the two parties.

The makeup of the two large US political parties
The makeup of the two large US political parties

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.

Irish Coalition Government

As I alluded to yesterday, in addition to visualising Irish election results the Irish Times built a coalition builder.

The current coalition is far from a majority in the new Dáil
The current coalition is far from a majority in the new Dáil

The principle behind the visualisation is sound: how could a government be created? And so the user goes away and creates his or her fantasy government. From a design perspective, the piece is nice with bold, party-related colours and clear controls. The Irish Times also included a nice subtlety with independent TDs (members of the Dáil) as clicking the plus button does not add all ten, but one person at a time. That reflects the fact the independents are not a whole party but ten individuals.

But I personally keep returning to a single question: how realistic are these fantasies? I think an addition that would benefit the story-telling element of the piece would be a guided narrative. Start with the screenshot above, which presents the coalition from the previous Dáil. Clearly they are far from a majority. A guided narrative could explain the likelihood and possible priorities of a various number of plausible coalitions. It would also be able to exclude the more ridiculous pairings.

Credit for the piece goes to the Irish Times’ graphics department.