In a Trifecta checkup, this map scores low on the Q corner: what is its purpose? What have readers learned about the salaries of state governors after looking at the map? (Link to original)


The most obvious "insights" include:

  • There are more Republican governors than Democratic governors
  • Most Democratic governors are from the coastal states
  • There is exactly one Independent governor
  • Small states on the Eastern seaboard is messing up the design

Notice I haven't said anything about salaries. That's because the reader has to read the data labels to learn the governor's salary in each state. It's work to know what the average or median salary is, or even the maximum and minimum without spending quality time with the labels.

This is also an example of a chart that is invariant to the data. The chart would look exactly the same if I substituted the real salaries with 50 fake numbers.


The following design attempts to say something about the data. The dataset is actually not that interesting because the salaries are relatively closely clustered.

You get to see the full range of salaries, with the median, 25th and 75th percentiles marked off. The states are divided into top and bottom halves, with the median as the splitting level. A simple clustering algorithm is applied to group the salaries into similar categories, then color-coded.

The Maine governor is the least compensated.

If you have other ideas for this dataset, feel free to submit them to me.


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