Politics

60 posts
Working with multiple dimensions, an example from Germany

An anonymous reader submitted this mirrored bar chart about violent acts by extremists in the 16 German states. At first glance, this looks like a standard design. On a second look, you might notice what the reader discovered- the chart used two different scales, one for each side. The left side (red) depicting left-wing extremism is artificially compressed relative to the right side (blue). Not sure if this reflects the...

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The discontent of circular designs

You have two numbers +84% and -25%. The textbook method to visualize this pair is to plot two bars. One bar in the positive direction, the other in the negative direction. The chart is clear (more on the analysis later). But some find this graphic ugly. They don’t like straight lines, right angles and such. They prefer circles, and bends. Like PBS, who put out the following graphic that was...

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Hope and reality in one Georgia chart

Over the weekend, Georgia's State Health Department agitated a lot of people when it published the following chart: (This might have appeared a week ago as the last date on the chart is May 9 and the title refers to "past 15 days".) They could have avoided the embarrassment if they had read my article at DataJournalism.com (link). In that article, I lay out a set of the "unspoken conventions,"...

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Proportions and rates: we are no dupes

Reader Lucia G. sent me this chart, from Ars Technica's FAQ about the coronavirus: She notices something wrong with the axis. The designer took the advice not to make a dual axis, but didn't realize that the two metrics are not measured on the same scale even though both are expressed as percentages. The blue bars, labeled "cases", is a distribution of cases by age group. The sum of the...

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It’s impossible to understand Super Tuesday, this chart says

Twitter people are talking about this chart, from NPR (link): This was published on Wednesday after Super Tuesday, the day on which multiple states held their primary elections. On the Democratic side, something like a third of the delegates were up for grabs (although as the data below this chart shows, a big chunk of the delegates, mostly from California and Texas, have yet to be assigned to a candidate...

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Whither the youth vote

The youth turnout is something that politicians and pundits bring up constantly when talking about the current U.S. presidential primaries. So I decided to look for the data. I found some data at the United States Election Project, a site maintained by Dr. Michael McDonald. The key chart is this one: This is classic Excel. *** Here is a quick fix: The key to the fix is to recognize the...

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Bad data leave chart hanging by the thread

IGNITE National put out a press release saying that Gen Z white men are different from all other race-gender groups because they are more likely to be or lean Republican. The evidence is in this chart: Or is it? Following our Trifecta Checkup framework (link), let's first look at the data. White men is the bottom left group. Democratic = 42%, Independent = 28%, Republican = 48%. That's a total...

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Where are the Democratic donors?

I like Alberto's discussion of the attractive maps about donors to Democratic presidential candidates, produced by the New York Times (direct link). Here is the headline map: The message is clear: Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with nation-wide appeal. The breadth of his coverage is breath-taking. (I agree with Alberto's critique about the lack of a color scale. It's impossible to know if the counts are trivial or not.)...

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Visualizing Historical Political Party Identification in the Era of Trump

As many have noted, President Trump has shown a remarkable ability to maintain a strong base of support — about 40% of the voters — despite the myriad controversies swirling around him. Some clues about that base can be seen in the results of a fascinating survey taken recently by Pew Research Center to gauge Americans’ reaction to the Mueller investigation. Deep in the white paper released by Pew are historical numbers...

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What is a bad chart?

In the recent issue of Madolyn Smith’s Conversations with Data newsletter hosted by DataJournalism.com, she discusses “bad charts,” featuring submissions from several dataviz bloggers, including myself. What is a “bad chart”? Based on this collection of curated "bad charts", it is not easy to nail down “bad-ness”. The common theme is the mismatch between the message intended by the designer and the message received by the reader, a classic error...

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