2016 Presidential Primaries – #IronViz

2016 Presidential Primaries – #IronViz

First, I would like to say that the Tableau Community is amazing. The amount of knowledge they possess is fascinating and I have the privilege of learning from some of the best people out there. I think this IronViz entry of mine is the result of being inspired by so many amazingly talented people in our community. So I extend my gratitude to one and all!

It’s #IronViz time again! I really enjoy using Tableau. I have also learned over time, when it comes to using a versatile product like Tableau, you can never know it all. This round, we were asked to create visualizations on politics, a topic that doesn’t interest me much. But nonetheless, I decided to challenge myself to create an impactful visualization. You can read about the topic and the competition here.


Some of the things I wanted to do this time greatly contradicted what I did for my last IronViz entry. I think I got in a lot more practice by religiously participating in weekly #MakeoverMonday challenges and was greatly inspired to keep things minimalistic this time around. I believe it is important to maintain uniformity in design and a logical order of narration to keep the attention of the audience.  Listed below are a few things I kept in mind to create an impactful visualization on U.S. Elections 2016.


I think the subject of politics is overpowering enough to have overpowering colors and fonts. And hence, I wanted to use colors that are subtle and reflect smoothness in design so I could focus more on storytelling and analysis. I used faded images in all of my story points to maintain consistency and convey the message effectively while not obstructing the view and the story. Also, I wanted to use colors that would make blue and red both look good against the backdrop. I settled with a tan background and brown hues for other elements of the design.


I think this is a very important aspect in designing a compelling visualization. I look at this like a screen play in movies, wherein you lay out elements that are logical in order and compelling enough to keep the attention of your audience. If I create a visualization that requires the use of story points, I literally narrate a story through data. Which means it goes from history of the topic, narration of the current events and conclusion to give the story its required fullness.

I always like to start with ‘the bigger picture’ to provide context of the story and use it as a way to provoke questions and/or interest in the audiences’ minds. So I thought a story point that describes voter turnout around the world would be a great way to show where the U.S. stands when it comes to voter turnout. I found this data set fairly easily and used a simple bar chart and geographical country shapes with some faded images to create interest and a theme based visualization.


Now that we know where the U.S. stands, this was a good place to show when the elections will be held, who the presumptive nominees are for the Democratic and the Republican Party and what we will learn in this dashboard.

After looking at the global voter turnout and talking about when the elections are going to held in the U.S. we take a look at votes by states for both the Democrats and the Republicans. I used circle images of the candidates and used a dual axis to lay them over blue and red circles to maintain their representation of the parties. I used a filled map and set up a hover action to allow the audience to see which candidates had the most votes in which state. To avoid visual clutter, I didn’t add names of the states and instead added geographical state shapes for total votes. Additionally, I sorted the candidate shapes descending, so they appear from ones with highest votes to lowest when you hover over states. For the sake of this dashboard, I only used the top 3 (by votes) candidates of both the parties.

For the rest of the story, I decided to take a look at votes by counties of SC, IA and NV for the Republican party because the dataset only had primaries results until February 2016 and I didn’t bother adding in recent results. I used a Level of Detail expression to give me candidates by maximum votes in each county. That resulted in Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz winning the counties of IA, NV and SC.

Because I was looking at county results, a scatter plot seemed fitting to compare where the winners of these counties stand in terms of 2 metrics. I created 3 scatter plots and compared how the winners fare in counties with the following voter distributions:

  • % of white population vs. % of population with a college degree
  • % of white population vs. % of Hispanic population
  • % of population with a college degree vs. Average median household income

The results were interesting.  Here is the summary of county facts by winners:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 2.58.16 PM

I used a single parameter and dynamic annotations on each of the three story points with scatter plots to indicate how the winners did in different counties. I thought this was a very clean and an effective way to narrate county facts by winners and still allow the audience to explore other counties by letting them hover over the bubbles.

Also, to fill the void space on these scatter plots, I included images of the winners to add interest.


We are nearing the end of this visualization and there is nothing better than leaving a question in your audiences’ minds:

Who will be the 45th president of the United States?

I thought an interesting fact was that, “If Donald Trump is elected in November, he will the oldest first term president to serve the U.S.” and so I provided a bar chart view for context, showing the ages of the 44 presidents that the U.S. has witnessed.

Lastly, if you have not noticed, apart from using other images, I used a faded watermark like text saying “Vote America, every vote counts” in the entire dashboard to maintain the election theme of the story.

I hope you enjoy going through the visualization and learning about U.S. presidential history and the upcoming elections.

Click on the image below to launch an interactive version

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.12.43 PM

I would love to hear feedback so please use the comment section below to let me know. As always, thank you for reading!

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