Election map design challenges

For NYT Opinion, Betsy Mason outlines the design challenges behind election maps. Do you show geography? Do you focus on scale? What colors should you use? For every choice, there’s always tradeoffs, which is why there are so many views.

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Red-blue electoral map and the green-gray in satellite imagery

For NYT’s The Upshot, Tim Wallace and Krishna Karra looked at how the red-blue electoral map relates to the green and gray color spectrum in satellite imagery:

The pattern we observe here is consistent with the urban-rural divide we’re accustomed to seeing on traditional maps of election results. What spans the divide — the suburbs represented by transition colors — can be crucial to winning elections. It’s part of why President Trump, seeking to appeal to swing voters, has portrayed the suburbs as under siege and menaced by crime. But the suburbs are neither politically nor geographically monolithic. They are where Democratic and Republican voters meet and overlap, in a variety of ways.

The breakdown and process are impressive. Be sure to check out the full rundown. Wallace also provides more details about how this came together on the Twitter.

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Electoral college and state population representation weights

By design, the electoral college and population don’t quite match up state-by-state. This results in a lower ratio of electoral seats to people for the higher populated states and a higher ratio for the lower populated states. Denise Lu for The Washington Post provides a small multiples state grid to show the differences.

These charts show the difference between each state’s share of the national population and its share of votes in the electoral college since 1960. If the bars are above the line, the state has a greater share of electoral votes than it does population, meaning it is overrepresented. If the bars are below the line, the state is underrepresented.

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