Paging Alberto Cairo

Now that I’m taking this MOOC course on data visualization, by Alberto Cairo, I’m paying a lot more attention to all the different infographics around (and I’m starting a visualization tag / category). Of course, with the election, infographics have abounded and they are of high interest to social scientists like me.

Take a look at this beauty (click on the image for a larger view):

It is a amazing representation of voting patterns at three points in time (2004, 2008 and 2012) by demographic categories. Starting with the first U-turn arrow, at the top, you can see that the majority of the electorate voted Bush in 2004, then Obama in 2008, then Obama again, but to a lesser extent, in 2012, hence the U-turn. And the same goes for all the different categories as you work your way down the graphic. You can clearly see which categories are solidly on one side or the other and which one go back and forth and in which direction. For instance, if you look at religion, the Jewish vote in not in play. It is solidly on the democratic side. However, if you look at the catholic vote, you see the shift from Republican to Democrat. By age, the younger voters are solidly democratic whole the 65+ are solidly Republican with the 30-44 category having shifted. Note the suburban U-turn from Republican, to Democratic, back to Republican.

The trend is overall rather clear: there was a great shift in favor of the Democrats from 2004 to 2008, with some mitigating in 2012 but still solidly on the Democratic side, so, the headline is accurate. I like that the background color is unobtrusive. The arrows are still clearly visible against the background. There is quite a lot of text inside the graphic itself. I think the designers anticipated that they were doing something relatively new and unusual and readers might initially look at that infographic and go “how the heck do I make sense of this?”, so, the inside copy is useful but not too big, nor too small.

It is also nice that the percentage of margin of victory is repeated at the bottom because, if you look at this on a small screen, you will quickly lose sight of the top of the infographic.

Even though it is not interactive, there is still a lot to explore and it clearly exposes the trends. I like it a lot.

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