The Election in the Burbs

One area of particular contention for the American presidential candidates this year will be in the suburbs of major urban areas. This was where Romney in particular was able to defeat his Republican rivals, but is also home to large number of potential Obama supporters. Given his likely support in cities, Romney will need to well in the suburbs this time around.

The Washington Post looks at how suburban counties voted over the past two elections.

Cropping of the map
Cropping of the map

Credit for the piece goes to Ted Mellnik, Laura Stanton, and Karen Yourish.

The Cities of Champions

From Slate comes an interactive map of which cities have won what championships across the big four sports (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey). It plots the championships over time and allows the user to see just how dominant certain cities have been in certain sports.

Where the winners won
Where the winners won

Credit for the piece goes to Chris Kirk.

Playing Politics

The election campaign for the presidency has begun in earnest. The President launched his official campaign over the weekend and Mitt Romney’s nomination is all but official. So what to do over the next six months? Lots of television adverts—thankfully I’m thinking of cutting my cable—and random events that shape public opinion. And, thanks to the New York Times, you can now play politics by dragging states into either the Obama camp or the Romney camp or you can read through the Times’ take on different scenarios.

Split Electoral College, my own scenario
Split Electoral College, my own scenario

Personally, I am going for the politically fascinating split electoral college route. Bonus points if you know what happens in this scenario—no cheating. And extra bonus points to the Times for splitting up the electoral votes of both Maine and Nebraska, look up what Obama did in 2008 to see how this can happen.

The Greeks Voted Sunday Too

Over at the Guardian, I was using this interactive piece from igraphics to follow the election results there. (It was a slight bit more interesting than following the French presidential election, because everybody knew Sarkozy was going to lose.)

Greek election results
Greek election results

Credit for the piece goes to igraphics, a Greek data visualisation outfit.

Beer, Whiskey, and Wine, Oh My

Last month I visualised my tea consumption data. But the other dataset that I record along with the tea is that of alcohol: when, where, and what I consume. The following is the result of four months of data, but you have to click for the full-scale view.

Click for full-scale view
My 2012 alcohol consumption, through 1 May. Click for full-scale view

Battleground States

The BBC provides an interactive tool to explore the battleground states in the forthcoming election. A giant donut chart with 50 segments maps a segment to a state and its total number of electoral votes. The larger the electoral vote, e.g. California, the larger the segment. Beyond just a giant chart, however, the BBC has placed the states into different camps, the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Battleground states.

Republican strongholds
Republican strongholds

Selecting either the Democrat strongholds or the Republican strongholds highlights the states for each respective party. Not a lot of functionality is to be had. Clicking on a state merely displays its name and number of votes. But this is not the main function of the piece.

A Democrat stronghold
A Democrat stronghold

The main goal of the piece is to explore the Battleground states. When the user selects one, he or she is presented with a new view that moves the chart partially off-screen—while keeping the Battlegrounds in view—and moves a profile piece on-screen. This view contains both a text summary of the state and its challenges along with important demographic statistics.

Battleground profile
Battleground profile

For an American audience, there is probably little to be gained from the piece unless one is wholly unfamiliar with American politics. But for the more international part of the BBC News audience, this piece gives them quick insights into the various states that will be so important over the course of the next few months.

Nope, It’s Just Clouds in the Shapes of Birds and Planes.

Supporting an article about how the clouds are the last great hope for the climate change skeptics, the New York Times published an interesting infographic that looks at cloud cover and insolation, the amount of solar energy that irradiates the planet.

The main feature is an animation of a year’s worth of cloud cover. The mapped data begins to clearly show the difference between air circulation over the oceans and over land, with the interface between the two creating the rough outlines of the continents.

Cloud map
Cloud map

Supplementing the animation are four small multiples of different measures that look at energy and its conservation across the planet.

Energy maps
Energy maps

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum.

Merry F*%#-ing Christmas

The title is from perhaps my favourite Christmas song

But the song relates to this post because earlier this week the print design blog For Print Only featured my annual Christmas card. I typically design and print a card to mail (as in a physical copy through the postal service, none of that e-card non-sense) to my friends and family. This past year I took to infographics to explore the realm of Santa and his North Pole dictatorship.

My Christmas Card
My Christmas Card

Credit for the photographs goes to FPO.

Analysing the Urban Environment

Via the Guardian comes an interactive piece from researchers at MIT and the Technical University of Lisbon that allows users to examine urban environments to compare population, energy use, and building material intensity for a select set of 42 different cities. The screenshots below are of neighbourhoods in Philadelphia.

Population density
Population density

Once the user has chosen an area, he or she can move on and analyse a different section of the city. This behaviour generates a comparison on the right of the current area to the previous area.

Energy use
Energy use

After the user has found an area of particular interest, he or she can generate a graphical report that summarises the findings for the selected area and compares that to other areas of similar scale in the city.

Graphical report
Graphical report

Credit for the piece goes to David Quinn and Daniel Wiesmann.

French Politics, Elections, and Data Visualisations.

The US is not the only country with elections in 2012. Actually quite a few other places have had them, will have them, or are in the midst of having them. The latter includes France, which had the first round of its presidential election earlier this week.

To put it simply, France has a first round to narrow the whole field to just two candidates—lots of democracies outside the US have multiple party systems that mean more than just two parties—and then a second round between the last two. Nicholas Sarkozy was thought likely to win the first round and then lose the second, but he instead lost the first outright. He still isn’t expected to do well in two weeks’ time. But, the French media of course produce infographics just as US, Canadian, and British media do. Except unlike the last three, French infographics tend to be in French and I tend to not read them because, well, I cannot.

But pictures and colours make it easier. Socialists like red. Centre-right like blue.

From Le Figaro comes a map of the results. The island-looking thing on the right is Paris, beneath that Corsica, and then the bottom are the various overseas territories and departments that all vote.

Election results by French department
Election results by French department

The question with French presidential elections—and in fact any country that has run-off elections—is what happens to the voters of the losers? For whom will they vote in the second round? Le Figaro also has an interactive piece that allows the user to play out different scenarios based on how many voters will not show up and of those who do, how they split their vote. Again, it’s in French, so I had to assume some things when playing around with the controls and then know a few things about French politics.

Scenario builder for Round 2
Scenario builder for Round 2

From Le Monde, another respected French media source that I have featured on more than one occasion, come some simpler visualisations of the results but with some nice features for comparison. The first is obviously a look at the 2007 results. (Anybody recall Segolene Royal? Her ex-husband/partner is Francois Hollande…the guy running for the Socialists this time round.)

Election results of 2007
Election results of 2007

But another interesting view is that of the results strictly from 2012’s first round.

Election results 2012, Round 1
Election results 2012, Round 1

But with the added feature of comparing those results per party to their performance in 2007.

Round 1 comparison, 2012 to 2007
Round 1 comparison, 2012 to 2007

There are always interesting things going on in politics when it comes to data visualisation and infographics. We just have to look outside the US from time to time.