US presidential elections from 1900 to 2016

Country/area: Canada

Organisation: Le Devoir

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 3 Sep 2020


Project description:

This project presents how electoral choices have evolved since 1900 in different economic, political and social contexts. Each map shows how the U.S. Electoral College voted in the presidential election. Each elector is represented by a square.

Impact reached:

The impact of this project was to be able to quickly and interactively visualize an important part of American history in an aesthetic way .

Techniques/technologies used:

We used Python’s data science libraries (Numpy, Pandas, etc.) to obtain and clean up the US elections data, as well as to bundle together all the information we wanted to present into one CSV file. We then used the D3.js JavaScript library and existing GeoJSON format codes to create the interactive electoral map that evolves according to the selected year. The images of American presidents come from a photo bank to which Le Devoir has access and have been modified by using the Adobe Creative Suite.

What was the hardest part of this project?

A difficult part of that project was to summarize each of the American election results since 1900 in a short and visually appealing way. The coding for the map design was a big challenge: allowing users to move smoothly from year to year, displaying for each year the associated president and all the cubes representing electors with the correct colors, allowing readers to see results and historical context in one look, etc.

What can others learn from this project?

The article shows that it is possible to use data journalism to teach about history. More than a century of American elections is recounted in just a few pictures and paragraphs. The animated map allows readers to observe all the voting tendencies, the evolutions and the reversals from one year to another. The text guides readers from 1900 to 2016 , contextualizes each election and provides an explanation for all results.

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