Monday Morning Quarterbacking the Quarterbacks

As most of you know, I am a huge baseball fan. I am not so much a huge fan of American football. But I will watch it from time to time. And as a Red Sox fan, that means I will root for the Patriots. So I guess you know how my Sunday night went.

But this past week, I started my subscription to the printed New York Times. And on Sunday I opened the sports section to this full-page graphic.

Page design
Page design

It comprises three graphics: The big one on the left looks at completions under pressure. Despite being a full-colour page, the designers only needed two colours to convey the message—black and orange.

Under pressure
Under pressure

Similarly, on the right, the third-down graphic also uses a more limited palette. But, for the heat map it does make some sense to use a full colour palette.

Performance in the pocket
Performance in the pocket

Overall, the page shows that colour, when thoughtfully restrained, makes not just the graphic clearer, but also good sense.

Credit fort he piece goes to David K. Anderson and Joe Ward.

Diversity in the 115th Congress

Well, we have arrived at 2017. We all know the big political story in the executive branch. But we also saw elections in the legislative branch. But how different will the 115th Congress look from the 114th? The Wall Street Journal took a look at that in an article.

Congressional diversity
Congressional diversity

The article’s graphic does a nice job showing the two different compositions. But if we are truly interested in the growth, we could use a line chart to better showcase the data. So what did I do last night? I made that chart. But as I was playing with the data I saw some numbers that stood out for me. So I compared the proportion of minorities in the original graphic to their proportion of the US national population, per Census Bureau data.

Redesigning the original graphic
Redesigning the original graphic

The line charts, broken out into the House vs. the Senate and then into the two parties, do a really good job of showing how the growth is not equally distributed between the two parties. And the reverse of that is that it shows how one party has failed to diversify between the two congresses.

The 115th Congress might be more diverse than ever. But it has a long way to go.

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

The Federal Funds Rate

In my new role as data visualisation manager at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, I am learning a lot about what the Fed does and how it does it. Needless to say, this piece from Bloomberg interested me as it displayed how the federal funds rate has changed over time.

How this potential hike cycle would compare to the two previous
How this potential hike cycle would compare to the two previous

What I really enjoy is how they colour-coded the two previous hiking cycles as well as what I think everyone presumes will be a new one. And those colours then move on down the piece into the dot plots. The dot plots show various potential factors in the decision-making process, and just how far off the current hiking cycle is from the two previous.

Credit for the piece goes to Chloe Whiteaker, Jeremy Scott Diamond, and Jeanna Smialek.

The Price of Petrol

How much does a gallon of milk cost? That, of course, is one of the classic election questions asked of candidates to see how in touch they are with the common man. But the same can be understood by enquiring whether or not they know how much a gallon of petrol or gasoline costs. And Bloomberg asked that very same question of the United States relative to the rest of the world. And as it turns out, here in the States, fueling our automobiles is, broadly speaking, not as painful as it would be in other countries.

The piece includes the below dot plot, where different countries are plotted on the three different metrics and the dots are colour coded by the country’s geographic region. But as is usually the case with data on geographies, the question of geographic pattern arises. And so the same three metrics presented in the dot plot are also presented on a geographic map. Those three maps are toggled on/off by buttons above the map.

How the US ranks compared to the rest of the world
How the US ranks compared to the rest of the world

A really nice touch that makes the piece applicable to an audience broader than the United States is the three controls in the upper-right of the dot plot. They allow you to control the date, but more importantly the currency and the volume. For most of the world, petrol is priced in litres in local currencies. And the piece allows the user to switch between gallons and litres and from US dollars to the koruna of the Czech Republic.

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Randall, Alex McIntyre, and Jeremy Scott Diamond.

Moderate Voters

In US presidential politics, the common sense truth is that candidates run to the wings of the parties to get primary voters. They say ridiculous, inane things, but with the hope to walk them back later. Why? Because while they commonly run to the outsides edges during primary season, candidates recognise that in the election itself, victory comes from the moderates. And yesterday, the Economist published a really nice piece on this point.

Moderate voters vote in the autumn
Moderate voters vote in the autumn

For a sample of battleground states, the Economist examined who voted in the recent primaries versus who voted in the last general election. Given the aforementioned common thinking, not surprisingly self-identified Democrats voted in droves for the Democratic primaries. And self-identified Republicans voted in the Republican primaries. When one looks at the historical 2012 data, however, with the exception (barely) of North Carolina, moderates out voted Democrats and Republicans in all the battleground states.

Not every chart needs to show revolutionary data. Sometimes data can simply validate widely-held truths that people know without knowing the data and facts behind them. And that is what this piece from the Economist does.

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist Data Team.

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.

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?

Trump Conservatism

Another Tuesday, more primary and caucus victories for Donald Trump in his quest to become the Republican nominee. However one of the refrains you hear from the right is that he is not a true conservative. How true is that? Well the BBC put together an article comparing Trump to the other candidates and some previous Republican presidents on various issues like foreign policy.

Republicans on foreign policy
Republicans on foreign policy

Okay, so it sort of works with cutout photos of people pasted onto an American flag background. But I cannot quite take the piece seriously because of its amateurish design. Maybe the American flag makes sense as a background graphic? But the heads? Surely not.

So what happens if we take a more serious approach—though I admit originally the idea of a Trump candidacy seemed farcical—to this graphic? Well I took a quick stab this morning.

My take
My take

Credit for the original goes to the BBC graphics department.

Predicting the UK General Election Results

(To be fair, I forgot to schedule to publish this post before I left somehow.)

Your humble author is still on holiday. So, today, you can enjoy a nice interactive piece from FiveThirtyEight that predicts the results of the 7 May general election. Of particular interest, the box part of the plot that shows the 90% confidence range.

Dot plotting the results
Dot plotting the results

The piece also has a choropleth map. My only feature request(s) would be to have a zoom feature for urban constituencies and/or to have a search field that allows the user to see the predicted results for a specific constituency.

Credit for the piece goes to Matthew Conlen and Ritchie King.

Boston’s Snowy 2015

Boston has finally had it. And by it I mean the snowfall that broke the record. And by record I mean the record for the most snowfall in a year. Well, at least since they started recording it in 1872. The Washington Post has a nice chart placing the season not just in context, but also showing how quickly the snow fell. Most of the snow has fallen only from 25 January onward. And winter is not yet over.

DC is puny compared to  Boston

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Uhrmacher.