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Shiny election thoughts - Musings of Unayok

2008 Oct 13

18:55Shiny election thoughts 

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Well, I'll give my predictions soon, but first...

I spent a few minutes (okay, an hour or so) pondering how to look at the election graphically. I'd always been taken by the ways that Peter Snow of the BBC was always able to present the UK elections so very graphically. I'd also been very disappointed that none of the Canadian networks appear to be able to follow suit, even in homage.

One of Peter's best graphics plots seats based on votes for each party in a two dimensional field. In the UK there's ordinarily three parties of interest, and you can see which seats are potential "swing" seats, as they are visually close to the "front" lines for the party.

(Update: For those not familiar with Peter Snow, there are a couple of Youtube video though this does not show off the particular segment I'm trying to vaguely imitate.)

Taking the 2006 election data from elections.ca, I did something fairly similar, but very cheap. In Canada's case, there's 4 parties with seats (Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Québécois) from 2006. This actually makes the data a bit easier to generate.

In any case, here it is...

At the top is the NDP (in orange), to the right the Conservatives, at the bottom the Bloc and to the left are the Liberal seats. The closer to the relevant edge, the greater the plurality of votes in the seat, and the distance from the center to an edge indicates the relative strength of the party.

I like the way the image came out. You can clearly see how many seats are in close jeopardy between various parties. Of course, Canadian politics is rather less stratified than UK politics can be, so this graphic may not be quite as predictive. However... we'll see. It was a fun micro-project to do.