Since the late 1800s, public data visualizations displaying election forecasts and results—such as the red and blue map of the United State—have presented an irreparably divided country. However, on November 8, 2016, the New York Times published a data visualization on their live presidential forecast page that broke over a century of visual expectations, inspiring many to tweet reactions to what popular media has dubbed the "jittery gauges." Not surprisingly, the tweets about this unique and difficult-to-interpret display were mostly negative. This paper argues, though, that the negative feedback indicates that the gauges, while imperfect, represent an important step away from visualizations that support the growing perception of party polarization. The key factor present in the gauges is the data design principle of uncertainty or possibility. If major news outlets were more thoughtful about introducing uncertain elements into visualizations of American politics, perhaps the nation could begin to imagine a political landscape that moves beyond red vs. blue, me vs. you.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hardy, Bethany Blaire, "Jittery Gauges: Combating the Polarizing Effect of Political Data Visualizations Through Uncertainty" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6640.
Political Data Visualization, Data Visual, Visual Rhetoric, Polarization, Jittery Gauges, Uncertainty