Brexit and Ireland

This week I really wanted to hold off on commenting about Brexit graphics until things settled down—admittedly thinking Remain would win. Now that Thursday has arrived, I think we can all agree that settling down is not happening and the UK really is leaving the EU.

As an Irish American, I grew up with frequent commentary about the Troubles and the general situation in Ireland. So by dint of my heritage, I care about how Brexit impacts Northern Ireland. Unfortunately this graphic from the New York Times on Brexit sentiments entirely omitted Northern Ireland. (It is far from the first time graphics about the UK omit Northern Ireland.)

Where is Northern Ireland?
Where is Northern Ireland?

But, what irritates me in particular about this graphic at this historic time, is what the designers did choose to include. If you look to the north and west of Scotland, you will find the Outer Hebrides and Orkney Islands. From the legend it appears there are no results, accordingly the islands remain—pun intended—grey for, I presume, a classification of not applicable or something similar. (Although, that should also be clarified in the legend.) But, while we are given an inset of Greater London’s results, the entire home nation of Northern Ireland is omitted from the results. (I could then mention how Northern Ireland was not ignored when it came to the Euro 2016 Round of 16 participant results, but I do not understand football enough to comment intelligently.)

And since we mentioned Northern Ireland, we should also mention that Gibraltar is absent from the results map presented here. Gibraltar was once Spanish territory. However, Spain ceded it to the United Kingdom in 1713 as part of the Peace of Utrecht made to end the War of the Spanish Succession. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to Remain. And as with Scotland and Northern Ireland, it will (likely) be dragged out of the EU against its people’s wishes.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

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.

Where Is Pennsyltucky?

So last week I mentioned Pennsyltucky in my blog post about Pennsylvania’s forthcoming importance in the election. And then on Friday I shared a humourous illustrated map of Pennsylvania that led into an article on Pennsyltucky. But where exactly is it?

Luckily for you, I spent a good chunk of my weekend trying to find some data on Pennsylvania and taking a look at it. You can see and read the results over on a separate page of mine.

Where is Pennsyltucky?
Where is Pennsyltucky?

Is Pennsylvania the Tipping Point?

Today we look at a piece that focuses on my native (and favourite) state: the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Along with Virginia, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, we self-identify as a commonwealth and not a state.) FiveThirtyEight examines how Pennsylvania and its shifting political preferences might just be the key (get it? keystone) to the election for both candidates. The crux of the article can be seen in the map, but the whole piece is worth the read. If only because it mentions Pennsyltucky by name.

Shifting states
Shifting states

Credit for the piece goes to David Wasserman.

Trump Knocks out Cruz

Donald Trump will be the Republican Party candidate for President of the United States.

Last summer I never imagined I would type those words in all seriousness, but after Trump won a majority of the votes in Indiana and likely swept all the delegates there, Ted Cruz suspended his campaign.

Two graphics strike my mind to best capture the story. The first is from last summer when FiveThirtyEight added Donald Trump to an existing graphic that loosely mapped out which candidates belonged to which factions of the Republican Party.

Trump was the exception in so many ways…
Trump was the exception in so many ways…

You can clearly see Donald Trump falls as an outlier at the extreme end of the Tea Party circle. This would be the argument that Trump is not a true conservative. But how did that argument play out over the following months?

Well this New York Times results map breaks down results to the county level. And you can see a lot of Trump red.

Results as of 4 May
Results as of 4 May

It started with wins in New Hampshire and, more importantly South Carolina. Candidates try to win Iowa and New Hampshire and whatever other states there are prior to Super Tuesday, because Super Tuesday requires a ground game that is expensive to maintain. And early victories lead to donations. But Trump’s crushing victory in South Carolina led to a series of wins in the deep Republican red South.

Importantly for this last phase of the contest, the Cruz campaign had bet on winning those very same southern states, the Bible Belt. While Cruz won Texas, it was his home state, he lost almost every other state. The map above shows just how wide and diverse Trump’s victories were. From liberal Massachusetts to Alabama and as far west as Arizona. The final one-two blow, however, came in the above map’s deepest reds: a swath from Rhode Island through Connecticut and New York into Pennsylvania then south into Delaware and Maryland. Trump was favoured in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but most had not expected those margins. The second blow, look at the deep red in Indiana. Cruz needed to win Indiana. He lost it big. And now he has stepped aside.

Donald Trump will be the Republican Party candidate for President of the United States.

Where’s the Cold Weather?

I prefer colder weather to warmer weather. I like to feel a bit of chill on my skin rather than a bit of warmth. This makes me that asshole who says “it’s great out today”, when the temperature is 5ºC (41ºF). (I also enjoy grey, cloudy days, but that’s a different matter entirely.) Anyway, thanks to a friend of mine I could take a look at some temperature maps of the contiguous United States.

High temperatures between 32º and 60ºF
High temperatures between 32º and 60ºF

The Pacific Northwest or the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and New England would be great along with the desert and the mountains. But, don’t deserts get hot? Because the whole point would be to not live somewhere too warm. So here’s a map of the number of days where I prefer to sit inside and crank the air conditioning.

Way too hot
Way too hot

Basically I should avoid the South, the deserts and the plains states of the Midwest. Chicago looks borderline uncomfortable. (And from experience, summers typically are.)

Credit for the piece goes to Christopher Ingraham.

Design and Data Visualisation

Today’s piece features a critique of the data visualisation world from Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post. It centres on the difference between these two maps. The one on the left is Ingraham’s and the one on the right from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Spot the difference
Spot the difference

I do not want to spoil or ruin the article for you—it’s a short read after all. But the crux of the argument, which I believe extends beyond maps, is that despite the proliferation of tools to visualise data, one still needs to understand the principles behind it to create meaningful work. Anybody can put words to paper—look at this blog after all—but the truly great writers have the education and the experience to move and motivate people. And the same holds true for designers of data visualisation. And designers even more broadly.

If I have to add one design critique to Ingraham’s work, I would also add that design decisions like colours and map type also play a role in creating legible pieces. The grey lines in the Pew map versus the white lines in the Post’s make it difficult to read the colours in the smaller, eastern counties of the United States.

Credit for the Washington Post piece goes to Christopher Ingraham.

Credit for the Pew Charitable Trusts piece goes to Pew’s graphics department.

How Trump Could Get to 270

Trump won Arizona last night. And that is a big deal, despite losing Utah. He was never expected to win Utah. And while he Arizona was expected, the magnitude of his victory there was…big. If you replicate even something close to that in a demographically similar state like California, he can rack up some big delegate numbers.

But the big story these days is the anti-Trump movement, largely centred upon either Ted Cruz or tactical, state-by-state voting to force a contested convention (which as a political nerd would be just fantastic). Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, however, wrote an article that I largely agree with that a Trump nomination might actually give the Republicans a better shot at the White House than Ted Cruz. The whole article is worth a read.

285 votes
285 votes

Credit for the piece goes to Chris Cillizza.

Watching the Iowa Caucus Results

Last night I watched the caucuses from my dinner table via the internets. And I used this handy piece from the Washington Post. The screenshot is from early in the evening before most of the results had arrived.

The early results
The early results

What is really nice is that the site refreshed every thirty seconds. Sometimes nothing happens in a county. But if something did, they used a nice white line within the county borders to indicate a county within which an update had occurred.

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

A Royal Nation

You may recall a year and a half ago a post I wrote up about a New York Times piece looking at the fandoms of baseball in the United States. Well fresh off their hometown Royals’ World Series victory, the folks at the Kansas City Star revisited the graphic—driven by Facebook likes—to see if there had been any change. Sure enough, Royals Nation—or whatever they call it—has made inroads into what was before St. Louis Cardinals territory.

Missouri is a little more blue these days
Missouri is a little more blue these days

The only sad part about the article is that they talk of changes in adjacent states, e.g. Kansas, but have no maps for those.

Credit for the piece goes to Jay Pilgreen.