Visualizing Historical Political Party Identification in the Era of Trump

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

As many have noted, President Trump has shown a remarkable ability to maintain a strong base of support — about 40% of the voters — despite the myriad controversies swirling around him.

Some clues about that base can be seen in the results of a fascinating survey taken recently by Pew Research Center to gauge Americans’ reaction to the Mueller investigation.

Deep in the white paper released by Pew are historical numbers listing the percentages of Americans who either support one of the two major parties or consider themselves independents, many of whom admit leaning left or right . These data probably aren’t news to people who follow politics more closely than I do, but the broad trends they illustrate were interesting to me — especially when analyzed visually.

First, the data show how support for these groups has changed over time. The reds in the normalized stacked bar chart below represent people who identify with Republicans, or lean towards them, and people who identify with Democrats, or lean toward them. The middle represents a smaller group that supports some other party or doesn’t have strong opinions. I’m calling them “rest”. These are the folks, I suppose, who help decide elections — if they vote.

Neither of the two major parties have maintained a majority of support, but the Democrats were there briefly during the election of Barack Omama and have come closer than the Republicans during the Trump era. You can see bursts of support for the GOP after former President Bill Clinton’s election, when the Republicans took back the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the years following the September 11 terror attacks.

This line chart plots the same groups from a different perspective, perhaps making it easier to see the changes to core party support and the broader strength with some independents leaning their way. You can see the positive swings for Democrats during the early days of the Clinton and Obama eras, and also how GOP support fell during the George W. Bush presidency.

Identification with the presidential party during Clinton, Bush and Obama either dropped or remained flat after they took office. Under Trump, however, the people who identify as Republican (and their learners) have rallied to their embattled president.

This small illustration helps explain the president’s resilient approval numbers. I’ll leave it to others to explain why those supporters remain.

You can download the data from Pew Research Center here.

How China’s Economic Retaliation Hurt the South Korean Tourism Industry

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance, Social Media

I wrote this week about the one-year anniversary of China’s economic retaliation against South Korea over the THAAD missile system, a defensive weapon designed to stop North Korea’s medium-range missiles.

China objects to it and has been flexing its economic muscle in protest, carrying out an aggressive campaign of economic retaliation that includes sending fewer tourists. In 2017, just over 4 million Chinese visited South Korea, down from roughly 8 million a year earlier after several years of steady growth.

These charts show the effect on the South Korean tourism industry, which has grown to depend heavily on China. This first example helps show China’s increasing share among all tourists who visit South Korea. In 2016, for example, nearly half of all visitors were Chinese — way up from a decade ago:

This chart reflects the annual total visitors by Chinese since 2000. Until last year, annual growth had average nearly 30%, even with the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea, which caused hundreds of thousands — likely millions — of Chinese to stay away. You can see how the figure dropped dramatically in 2017:

And, finally, we look at the monthly data, which spikes during peak summer months. The effect of MERS is again evident, as is the significant drop in tourists after the Chinese implemented travel restrictions last March: