November 7, 2012
Sketches for How Obama Won Re-election

Election night is (mercifully) over. Aside from the dozens of maps, tables and charts that ran live during the election, including a bunch live graphical updates to the live blog (some of which I reblogged here last night), the department also published a more analytical piece this morning.

There had been many sketches and ideas about what to do for the “How the Winner Won” graphic (Amanda made at least 40 ideas, some of which she might share someday), but by the end of the night there was a pretty good plan.

This sketch, by Steve Duenes, doesn’t show all the research or failed ideas that got us to this point, but it does show a clear plan that was eventually executed overnight by about ten graphics editors. The main map, by Mike Bostock and Shan Carter, was a variation on earlier maps we had published, including the map of House shifts in 2010 (which itself was part of the Times’s election app this year) with some clear inspiration by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg’s wind map

Anyway, here’s the sketch:  

how obama won sketch

And what was on the NYTimes homepage this morning:

how we won - final

9:32pm  |   URL:
Filed under: election_2012 mapping 
July 21, 2012
Droughts on deadline

Last week I got a chance to drop various longer-term assignments and do a small amount of monkeying for my colleague Haeyoun Park, who had obtained some data  from the N.O.A.A. on droughts in the contiguous United States going back more than a hundred years. 

Every project is different, and when you’re on deadline, everyone just pitches in however they can to get the thing done in time. Haeyoun already knew exactly what she wanted: a grid of small multiples, showing one map per year. She had already done the reporting, gotten the data, made a map or two with GIS software to confirm that the idea would work. She just needed someone to crank out the maps. (Which is to say, she did almost all the work.) 

As far as the computation goes, these maps are extremely easy to make using maptools. Generally, it takes about 20 minutes to make the first map and about 10 seconds to make the next N maps. (Not that I didn’t need to ask Amanda to fix my code.) These were all written to a single PDF in the grid Haeyoun wanted (here, an area is shaded red if it is under moderate to extreme drought):

PDF export

Which she annotated and cleaned up for print:

Print version

Archie Tse wanted to explore a couple different grid patterns for the web, since we had a little more space to deal with, and he had me export a few different sizes…

grid of grids

…before deciding on the 10-by grid, which is cool because you see an entire decade in every row. (This had not occurred to me until I saw it on the page.) They reordered them to go back in time, with 2012 on top:

web version

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