Conservatives replying to Yingst’s tweet interpreted the expanse
of red as proof of their party’s dominance throughout all levels
of government. Liberals viewed the map as a distortion, masking
the fact that most of that redness covers sparsely populated land,
with relatively few voters.
In reality, both sides are right, says Ken Field. A
self-proclaimed “cartonerd,” Field is a product engineer at the
mapping software company Esri and author of a guidebook for
mapmakers called Cartography. The problem, he says, isn’t with
people’s partisan interpretation of the map. The problem is
believing that any single map can ever tell the whole story.
“People see maps of any type, and particularly election maps, as
the result, the outcome, but there are so many different types
of maps available that can portray results in shades of the
truth,” Field says. “It’s a question of the level of detail that
people are interested in understanding.”
Really interesting examples of data visualization in this piece.