How ‘State of the Union’ Speeches Changed Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

Tonight President Obama gives his third “State of the Union” speech, an address that dates back to George Washington. Over time, the length and format of the speech has changed, according to the The American Presidency Project

Bubbles in this view are sized the represent the number of speeches given by each president, with colors representing format (purple = oral; green = written).

This shows the total number of words used during each president’s tenure in both formats. Teddy Roosevelt needed 174,000 to deliver his thoughts, leading all presidents. 

A better view is to look at the average number of words used, given that presidents have had varying term lengths over time. Jimmy Carter led all presidents, with an average of 33,000 words, though that’s skewed by one long written address as he left office.

Bill Clinton had the longest average oral speeches since 1966, at 1 hour and 14 minutes. Richard Nixon gave the shortest speeches, averaging about 35 minutes. 

View interactive version | Download data

Charting War Fatalities

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The Washington Post this morning reports on Army Spec. David Hickman, who died last month in Bagdad, the victim of a roadside bomb. The paper notes that Hickman could very well be the last last of the 4,474 Americans to die in Iraq: 

With the final U.S. combat troops crossing out of Iraq into Kuwait, those who held Hickman dear are struggling to come to terms with the particular poignancy of his fate. As the unpopular war that claimed his life quietly rumbles to a close, you can hear within his inner circle echoes of John F. Kerry’s famous 1971 congressional testimony on Vietnam:

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

The story is accompanied, both online and in print, by a column chart visualizing day-by-day fatalities during the eight-year war. This version shows all deaths: 

This version shows soldiers who, like Hickman, died from improvised explosive devices: 

How Robert Griffin III’s Heisman Ballot Compares to Past Winners

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Last night Robert Griffin III became the first Baylor football player to win the Heisman Trophy, the college game’s highest honor. Griiffin was the 76th player to receive the award — and the 28th quarterback — since the tradition began in 1936.

The winner is selected from ballots cast by hundreds of sports journalists, and past honorees. Each votes for three players, and ranks them on scale from first place (three points) to third place (one point). The higher the points received by a player, the more unanimous his selection as the winner. 

Griffin received 1,687 points, slightly above the average winner over the years. Here’s how players have compared since the start (colored in Baylor green): 

View the full list of past winners here.

Walk-Off Home Run History

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Turns out game-ending home runs — like last night’s centerfield shot by St. Louis Cardinals infielder David Freese — are more common than I imagined. There have been nearly 3,000 in the last five decades, including more than 70 this season. 

That’s twice the figure from 1960:

View interactive version | Source: baseball-reference.com 

Charting Troops in Iraq

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

President Obama on Friday announced that U.S. troops would be leaving Iraq by year’s end. The New York Timestake

The president’s statement, coming a day after a NATO air campaign hastened the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, was laden with symbolism, marking the ebb tide of a decade of American military engagement that began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It also capped a remarkable period of foreign-policy accomplishments for a president who is hindered by a poor economy at home.

The Times also has an interactive column chart visualizing the number of troops in Iraq since the war began:

Here’s the view of Afghanistan, which has followed a different trajectory: 

Charting Twitter Stats

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

One hundred is the new 140 on Twitter, according to my wife. How am I doing? My tweets since August 2009: 

Tweets: 1523. Average tweet: 89 characters.

Longest tweet:

RT @KenLegler: MERRYº°¨¨°º¤ø °¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤ø¸CHRISTMAS¤ø ¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤ø ø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤MERRYº°¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤Ã

Shortest tweet:

Fire! 

English Premier League Wins, Goals

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Today’s match between Manchester United and Chelsea could well decide who wins the English Premier League title this season. Of course, both teams are comfortable in this position, having dominated the league in the last two decades along with two other elite clubs: Arsenal and Liverpool.

This column chart shows that dominance, both in wins (470 for Manchester United and 383 for Chelsea) and goals (1,445 and 1,214, respectively) since 1992.

Wins:

Goals:

View interactive versions: wins, goals

Source: Barclays Premier League | Data: XML