In recent years, more and more people have been registering as independent voters in the US, rather than Democrat or Republican - the independents now control well over 1/3 of the votes. Will they likely vote for the Democrat or Republican candidates in the upcoming election? Let's break down some numbers to try and figure that out...

I was looking around for data and pre-existing graphs on this topic, and found a pretty good article on the Washington Post website. It contained the following graphs, which I thought were fairly insightful:

But the more I studied these pies, the more I noticed that they were more of an "attention grabber," rather than something for serious analytics. Here are a few details that could be improved:

• There are no % signs on the numbers, so you have to guess that they are percents.
• The Dems & GOP slices aren't labeled in the 2nd pie.
• 'Exploding' the slices makes it more difficult to compare the angles.
• With no reference lines, it is difficult to tell how much more/less than 25% each slice is.

So I re-made the graphs in SAS, and tried to fix all the above problems:

The pie charts show the current (2016) data, but I also wondered how the numbers have changed over time. Luckily, the article also had a graph for that!

But as I studied their bar chart, I found it difficult to get much precise insight from it. And there were a few aesthetic deficiencies that jumped out at me. Here are the things I tried to improve in my SAS version of the chart:

• There are no % signs on the axis, so you have to guess that they are percents.
• It is difficult to see where the 50% split is, with no reference line.
• The legend colors go left-to-right, but the bar segments are stacked bottom-to-top.
• The gaps between the bars make it difficult to see the 'flow' of data over time.
• Some bars have no year labels, although there is plenty of room to fit them.

So, historically, it looks like there were definitely more voters leaning Democrat during the 2007/2008/2009 time period, but in 2016 it's pretty close to a 50/50 split. Most independents seem to lean one way or the other, but there are still enough non-leaning ones to influence which party will win. 2016 should be an interesting election year, eh!

Now for some fun...

What would a good blog post be, without a few random photos?!?... Here are some pictures of "I Voted" stickers provided by several of my friends. See if you can match the photos (numbered 1-4) with the correct person's name. (There might even be a way to cheat on this one!)

• Trena: Registered Republican (that's the red slice in the pie chart).
• Becky: Registered Independent, and was voter #26 in the election where she got this sticker.
• Karen: Registered Unaffiliated, but leans somewhat Republican and describes herself as a constitutional conservative (she's the pink slice in the pie chart, like 14% of the voters).
• Margie:  Registered Unaffiliated, and describes her thinking as left-leaning Libertarian. (Her nickname is "Clever Sign Chick," so of course would have to make her own sticker.)

Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Share

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 25 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).