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Teaching Data Journalism In China

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: China, Tutorials

I’ve just returned from a week in China, teaching data journalism to students from all over the country at Fudan University (sponsored by the U.S. China Education Trust).

Helped by a fabulous co-instructor, Yan Lu, we taught them about acquiring data, data wrangling, storytelling, visualization, SQL, mapping, news apps and more.

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The students, working journalists and professors, were quite impressive. Working in groups, they created several data-driven projects of their own — a few of which were publishable after just a few days’ work.

For a mapping exercise, students identified several locations by latitude and longitude.

For a mapping exercise, students identified several locations by latitude and longitude.

Students demo their project related to Chinese perception of the U.S. presidential election.

Students demo their project related to Chinese perception of the U.S. presidential election.

I love China, and it was a real honor to be invited to work with such talented group. 谢谢

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FiveThirtyEight Chat On Maps: Turning The “Big” States Blue

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The folks at FiveThirtyEight had a fun data visualization discussion during their regular election chat this week, about whether Hillary Clinton should focus on ensuring victory next month or spending more money in “red” states to expand her Electoral College map.

Nate Silver chimes in by alluding to the classic discussion about how choropleth maps of the United States in a political context can distort a story. That’s because geographically large but sparsely populated western states skew the picture.

harry: People look to the map to understand how big the victory was. We have a winner-take-all system.

micah: Yeah, if the map everyone sees on Nov. 9 is covered in blue, doesn’t that make a difference?

clare.malone: I think it’s a reasonable goal for them to want to/try to win at least one unexpected state. A spot of blue in a sea of red can be a striking visual that people walk away with.

natesilver: So should they aim for states that are physically larger because they’re more impressive on the map?

clare.malone: Hah, yes.

natesilver: So Alaska then?

clare.malone: No.

natesilver: Or not Alaska because it gets shrunken down?

harry: Is this a Mercator problem? I don’t know maps.

Good stuff.

Of course, she could always try to win like Raegan did in 1984 — and then it won’t matter how you visualize it:

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New Poverty Data Show Improving Economic Conditions in States

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance

Economic conditions continue to improve in America’s states, with many showing significant declines in their poverty rates, according to new survey data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 14.7 percent of the American population had incomes last year that were below their respective poverty levels, which vary depending on household size — a significant decline from 2014.

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Mapping D.C. Building Heights

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: DC

I posted yesterday about residential buildings in Seoul and South Korea. Here’s a quick look at the buildings in my previous city, Washington, D.C. Darker shades represent taller buildings:

Mapping South Korea’s Foreigners

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, South Korea

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Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

This week I looked at the population of foreign residents in South Korea, charting national origin and geographic distribution around the country. But if you don’t live here (and even if you do) that geography can be quite difficult to absorb without maps.

So, after a year of procrastination, I finally got the courage to tackle the detailed census and geography files from the Korean Statistical Information Service (you try loading Hangul characters in a database!).

Charting Clinton’s Sizable Lead in Votes

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

This post has been updated. See correction at the bottom of the page.

To some Bernie Sanders supporters, the Democratic presidential race must seem close. Their candidate, after all, has essentially split victories with Hillary Clinton in the more than 30 election primaries and caucuses since the process began in February — including several in a row recently.

Clinton, their thinking goes, may have a lead in pledged delegates for the nomination, but her sizable and (for now) critical lead among party leaders known as “superdelegates” could crumble if the Vermont senator continues winning.

Anything’s possible. But Clinton has already secured many, many more votes than the Vermont senator and, party rules and delegate grappling aside, is absolutely dominating the race in terms of raw support. This trend is likely to continue with large, Clinton-friendly states coming up, and it could undercut Sanders supporters’ “will of the voters” hypothesis going forward.

Clinton has won roughly 9.4 million votes, compared to Sanders’ 7 million, according to returns from U.S. states. Along the way she’s posted huge victories. Her margin in Florida alone (530,000 votes) is about the same as Sanders’ margin in his victories combined.

Here are a few quick sketches (see correction below) that help illustrate this fact. First, let’s look at their states on a scatter plot to explore not just the number of victories for each candidate but the size of their respective states — and the relative victory margins:

scatter

Here’s a similar view in the form of a bubble chart (or, Alastair Dant would say, “BALLS!”):

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And, finally, two maps. Again they show the large margins — and geographic differences — evident Clinton’s victories:

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UPDATE: A Twitter user suggested I look at the data with time in mind. Not sure it proves his point, but here’s another sketch:

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The charts were made with Tableau Public, a useful tool for sketching with data. You can see interactive versions of the charts here: Scatter | Bubbles | Maps | Time.

(Correction: Some caucus states — Washington, Nevada, Maine and Wyoming — reported candidates’ proportional number of delegates selected to state conventions, not actual votes. The charts below now reflect margin estimates extrapolated from the total Democratic caucus participation by delegate share, like this. The charts were updated to reflect these estimates. The central idea of the post, and the overall popular vote margin difference between the candidates, remains virtually unchanged, however.)

Mapping GOP Campaign Cash by Density

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The GOP presidential candidates collectively have raised more than $300 million in this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data. Here’s a quick look at where several of those candidates — Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump — collected the money.

Each dot on the maps (see update below) below represents at least $5,000 raised by zip code. The dots in each place are assigned randomly within the zip code boundaries, creating a density map (think Verizon vs. AT&T) for campaign donations* through Feb. 29.

Here’s a (crowded) map with all the candidates. The dots were layered alphabetically, a method that unfortunately obscures some candidates at this scale, depending on the geography. Still regional differences are evident:

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JEB BUSH

The former Florida governor raised large amounts of money, of course, from his home state, but also — as the perceived frontrunner for a time — from major population centers:

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BEN CARSON

Carson raised a ton of money for someone who received relatively little love once voters started casting their ballots. His map shows he raised more from small locations throughout the country, not just the major population centers:

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CHRIS CHRISTIE

The New Jersey governor, understandably, raised a large proportion of his money from his home region:

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TED CRUZ

The Texas senator raised money from all over the country, but he clearly has a financial base in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston — the major population centers in his home state.

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JOHN KASICH

Like Christie, the Ohio governor tapped his donor base at home:

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MARCO RUBIO

The Florida senator’s map looks much like that of his frenemy, Bush:

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DONALD TRUMP

The billionaire business man, who has relied largely on personal funds for his campaign, has raised very little money in checks larger than $200, as reflected in his map:

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* To keep the analysis consistent for all campaigns, the maps were created with a data set that excluded individual donations of less than $200. The data include only donations to the candidates’ campaign committees, not other political committees supporting them.

UPDATE (9:20 p.m. EST): Based on David’s suggestion in the comments, I’ve changed the dot color in the individual maps so it’s consistent. You can see the originals here: Bush | Carson | Christie | Cruz | Kasich | Rubio | Trump.

Clinton Dominates ‘Majority Minority’ Counties

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

Hillary Clinton’s efforts to win over minority voters have paid off significantly in the Democratic primaries. Many of these voters simply aren’t feeling the Bern, according to voting results and demographics data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since January, Clinton and her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have faced off in 26 states, pulling about 15 million votes from 1,900 counties and county equivalents. (Votes in two states, Kansas and Minnesota, were calculated at the congressional district level).

Roughly 250 of the counties contested in the Democratic race are majority minority, meaning non-Hispanic whites there represent less than half the population. The majority in those places is as follows: Blacks (91 counties), Hispanics (64 counties) and Native Americans/Alaska natives (1 county). Another 93 counties have no ethnic or racial majority, making them quite diverse compared to much of America.

Clinton won all but seven of these majority minority counties.

To understand this phenomenon, it’s useful to take a look at her vote share on a map (inspired by The New York Times’ lovely interactive version here). She’s dominated the Deep South and Texas, places with high proportions of black and Hispanic voters, respectively:

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Sanders’ map also clearly shows Clinton’s strength, except for a few places (remember Kansas and Minnesota’s maps would look different had votes been counted at the county level) outside the South and in New England, his home turf:

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Here’s a map showing all 249 majority minority counties in the Democratic race thus far on top of Clinton’s vote share. As I mentioned, Sanders only won seven of them (and only one with a population greater than 10,000):

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Clinton’s dominance is particularly evident among black voters specifically. Of all the counties in the race, not just those that are majority minority, about 380 have at least a 25-percent black population. Clinton, somehow, won them all, edging Sanders by 1.5 million votes:

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Of course, none of this is a surprise. Black voters in overwhelmingly side with the Democrats, and Clinton is the Democratic front runner. But it’s interesting, I suppose, that Sanders hasn’t done better.

Thoughts?

Where ‘Anglos’ are the Minority

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

I’ve posted before about “majority minority” counties — places where non-Hispanic whites represent less than half the population. They were critical to President Obama’s election in 2008, and their numbers continue to grow.

The number of “majority minority” counties — now the most in modern U.S. history — have doubled since 1980, according to the Pew Research Center.

The most-recent population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that non-Hispanic whites (or “Anglos,” as my Texas friends call them) are the minority in 364 counties.

There are 151 that don’t have a single racial or ethnic group in the majority, making them the country’s most-diverse places. Hispanics are more than half the population in 94 counties, mostly in the Southwest, followed by blacks (93, mostly in the Deep South) and American Indians/Alaska natives (26, mostly in the Great Plains and Alaska).

Here’s a quick map:

'Majority Minority' Counties

‘Majority Minority’ Counties

The number of these counties, of course, will continue to grow and shape our culture and politics. Tomorrow we’ll look at these locations in the context of the current presidential primaries.

New Show, Knife Raise O.J.’s Google Profile

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, News

More than 20 years after his blockbuster murder trial, O.J. Simpson is back in the news — this time after Los Angeles police reportedly found a knife on the grounds of his former estate.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson

According to the Los Angeles Times, a retired police officer “has handed over a knife given to him by a construction worker who helped raze Simpson’s mansion in 1998.” The knife, which could have been used in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, is now being tested by the police.

The news comes a month after a new television show dramatizing his sensational trial began airing on FOX.

The renewed interest in Simpson, now serving a prison term in Nevada for an unrelated robbery and kidnapping case, is reflected in online search traffic, according to Google Trends.

This graph shows search volume since 2004. Traffic has been relatively dormant over the years except for spikes, like in September 2007, when Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas on multiple felony counts after an altercation over sports memorabilia. Another spike in late 2008 reflects his conviction at trial. He’s now serving out a 33-year-term but is eligible for parole next year.

Searches for his name spiked significantly after the new show, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., began airing Feb. 2.

Regional trends are also evident in the searches. This map shows that searches in Nevada and the Las Vegas metro area more common than in other parts of the country. That makes sense because of the location of his trial and incarceration.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 09.23.51

Someday O.J. Simpson will no longer capture the collective imaginations of Americans. Today is not that day, apparently.