Tag Archives: useless

Political voting maps are useless

This week, the New York Times ran a knowledge visualization this is drawing complaint. Titled “An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Election,” it’s a map of the United States, with each and every county painted Republican crimson or Democrat blue.

As it’s possible you’ll be expecting, the map seems like hen pox have eaten a Smurf. As with maximum maps we see of voting patterns, it takes landmasses under consideration, now not the populations inside them. As a consequence, the visible is extremely crimson with the slightest hints of blue–liberal surprise bait that makes it appear to be democratic beliefs are all however run out of America. In fact, land doesn’t vote, and counties don’t resolve elections, in any way. People in states do. Hillary Clinton received the preferred vote via 3 million other people–the ones other people had been simply dispensed around the fallacious state buckets.

i-1-90208749-political-voting-maps-are-useless-813x457 Political voting maps are useless Interior
See the interactive graphic in query right here. [Image: The New York Times]

LA Times reporter and mapmaker John Schleuss hopped directly to Twitter to supply frank and unedited complaint of the Times’s paintings. He mentioned the NYT “lied via now not factoring in [population] density.” The he confirmed a chain of side-by-sides demonstrating his level. The LA Times created the very same crimson and blue county-by-county voting for California in 2016, however via fading counties with low populations out of the image, you spot a moderately murky however hugely other tale–a California that’s a certain win for Democrats once a year, relatively than a crimson state as massive as Texas.

But while you color with out fascinated about density you spotlight issues that don’t wish to be highlighted. Take Bakersfield, California. A ravishing barren region town. Where is it within the map at the left? Can you even see the town? The position the place extra other people reside? percent.twitter.com/zAyeqKLmAU

— Jon Schleuss ???? (@gaufre) July 26, 2018

Here’s a take a look at the 2016 NYT California as opposed to the LAT California. When you take a look at “their” map, who do you assume received? Then take a look at our map. What message do you spot? percent.twitter.com/JCqES7BHMp

— Jon Schleuss ???? (@gaufre) July 26, 2018

It’s now not the primary time somebody has identified the futility of the time-honored crimson and blue election map. My favourite example calls for deep, unlicensed YouTubing again to the yr 2000. When Florida’s striking chads left the arena in wait just for the Supreme Court handy Bush the election, Wanda Sykes posed as a political correspondent on The Chris Rock Show, and roasted our dependence on near-useless commentating in entrance of crimson and blue maps.

Sykes: Now Chis, what you spot right here, the crimson is what Bush received. The blue is what Gore received.

Rock: There’s numerous crimson there! Looks like Bush received numerous votes!

Sykes: It appears to be like that method. But bet what? Don’t no one reside there! You see this state Chris? (Gestures to New York). Twenty million other people! You see this shit right here? (gesturing to Wyoming) That’s a man named Ned. The remainder of this shit is simply rocks and cows.

Almost 20 years later, although, this very obtrusive drawback, of measuring votes via landmass and now not via human beings, remains to be same old observe throughout many print and broadcast publications. And with all recognize to Schleuss’s complaint, I’d argue that the instant we paint votes on a map in any respect, we’re blurring the actual tale. Why? States make for awful knowledge visualizations as a result of their quantity isn’t a one-to-one illustration of the electoral votes they each and every account for. Popular votes inside of a state resolve the electoral votes of that state. And it’s winner takes all via state.

Bottom line: There isn’t any respectable strategy to clear up the election map with out distorting the map such a lot, it ceases to be recognizable because the map we all know. In which case, why hassle the usage of a map in any respect?

Two years in the past, America used to be blindsided via Trump’s win, partly on account of awful knowledge visualizations. And whilst I’m delighted to look Schleuss reigniting the information visualization debate, I concern that that is one folly that historical past is destined to copy.