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.

PresOld

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.

PresNew

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?