Chart Remodeling: Mekko’s Presidential Resumes

Graph masters Mekko put out a slide the other day that shows the most recent work experience of every US President, divided neatly into 5 categories. It’s interesting to look at, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could be improved.


Specifically, it was the color that bothered me. I wondered if the hodge-podge of colors might even detract from the visualization, as it seems to have themes (blues, greens, etc…) that don’t actually signify anything. Furthermore, US politics have a well established color-code, wouldn’t that make this chart more informative?

Thankfully Mekko left the slide downloadable and editable, so it took just a few minutes and hey-presto, party affiliation is baked right in! I went with the standard Democrats in blue and Republicans in red, made Whigs a dark slate, Democratic-Republicans purple, and left the relatively speaking non-affliated Washington and Adams white and grey, respectively.


So, dear graph enthusiast: have I improved the chart, or added an unnecessary detail? Does reinforcing the political divide take away from the intended message? Are there any other enhancements that come to mind?


Maps of the 2012 Presidential Election

During the course of the 2012 U.S. presidential election you’ve no doubt seen lots of maps of the United States.

The maps that most people saw on election night (and in the weeks running up to it) had a very simple binary look: Blue for Obama, and Red for Romney.  Usually, they just have one color per state because that’s what matters in the Electoral College.


However, it’s interesting to split that data out into counties as well.

This map (found on Gawker) takes it three steps beyond just the standard red/blue state map.  The second map shows counties with a binary red/blue scheme.  The third map shows each individual county on a red to purple to blue scale.  The final map changes the transparency of any given county based on the population of that county; the brighter the county the more people that live there.


I think this gives a great visualization because it gives a truer perspective of where the votes fell in this election.

Another way to show this data is through a cartogram.  Since the presidential election is decided by electoral votes, it makes sense to scale the US appropriately.  This cartogram mashes up the two concepts nicely; the shape still resembles the United States, but gives you a more accurate representation in each state’s contribution to the electoral vote total.


A great deal has been made this year about election spending.  This video courtesy of NPR gives fascinating insight as to where the money in this election was being spent, represented in maps.


What other interesting maps did you find in this past election?