Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Visualization often puts stories in perspective

Following an election or primary race too closely is entertaining, but also stressing. Media organizations often read too much into individual polls—I try to stick to the mantra “every single poll is noise; what might matter is the weighted average of all polls,”—and pundits love to read tea leaves—aka: spotting and discussing signals in randomness.

The recent Democratic primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire are big news these days, but how much do they really matter? I don't know; I'm no political analyst, but the following visualization by WSJ's Brian McGill puts things in perspective. Maybe those primaries matter less than we want them to, as there's still such a long way to go?

Brian designed that cartogram manually, painstakingly copying and pasting nearly four thousand squares. I sympathize with his effort. I've made cartograms like that myself in the past.