From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Posts Tagged ‘House of Representatives

Political picture of America

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I tend to avoid political commentary on this blog, save for issues concerning the economy.  However, this morning I stumbled on some data — or more specifically, data presentation — which will be of interest whether you are a republican, democrat, or something else entirely.

Robert Allison, writing on the SAS Learning Post this morning, has a great piece titled, “Building a Better Election Map“.  Allison notes that we are all confronted with a congressional election map that looks something like this:


This is misleading on a lot of levels.  From a republican perspective, it implies that they still have control of the vast expanse of America.  For democrats, this map makes them question whether or not they really took control of the House of Representatives.  It’s simply not a good way to combine the population distribution of the U.S. with the data on House representation, which is supposed to be apportioned according to that population distribution.  Allison experimented with a number of formats, and ended up with a great interactive map that divides the U.S. up into 435 equal sized representational images and then color codes them according to the current representation.  Note that this map also shows where “flipped” seats happened this year.


Well, ain’t THAT neat!  This immediately lets the reader see where geographic trends are happening.  Several interesting pieces of data come out instantly.  For one, Texas is “bluer” than one might think.  Second, the largest number of republican-to-democrat flips happened in pivotal Pennsylvania (not in California, where one might have thought listening to the newscasts).  Third, the old Confederacy is a lot “bluer” than one might have thought, with democrat-to-republican flips happening in Virginia (2), South Carolina, Florida (2), Georgia, and Texas (2 thusfar).

As noted, Mr. Allison’s work is interactive, and I highly recommend you read his entire piece.  It’s a great article on both politics as well as data representation.

Written by johnkilpatrick

November 15, 2018 at 6:25 am

Yet another comment about today’s economic news

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It’s hard NOT to be pleased at today’s economic news.  The unemployment rate is down, total employment is up (the two numbers don’t ALWAYS move in sync, due to the growth in the potential workforce), the stock market is up, the dollar is up versus the Euro, Yen, and Pound (not always a good thing), and bond yields are up (reflecting a potential demand for borrowing — a very “old school” view of stocks versus bonds).  Intriguingly, oil is up but only by $0.59 a barrel as of this writing (12:35am EST on Friday the 3rd)  — one would normally expect that great economic news would spur a run on oil.

Which may, in fact, reflect the continued anxiety in the marketplace.  Recessions rarely happen in a straight line (see my post a few weeks ago on the relationship between the yield curve and the onset of a recession — click here for a shortcut).  Real estate continues to be in disarray, and the banking sector is still in rehab, with the continued concern of a relapse if the Euro crisis doesn’t solve itself.

Ben Bernake’s testimony before the House Budget Committee this week was painful to watch  — members of Congress would prefer to listen to themselves rather than the Chair of the Fed, and it was clear that members of that august committee had only a cursory understanding of what the FED actually DOES.  Nonetheless, a piece of Bernake’s testimony had the tone of Armageddon.  He noted that we’re on our way to addressing the CURRENT problems — the huge deficit overhang, the Euro crisis, etc.  Congress still has ample work to do in those areas, but we are at least confronting the issues.  The larger problem, in his mind, is what start happening in about 10 years or so when the demographic overhang starts hitting.  The rapid shrinkage in the number of people PAYING into social security and medicare versus the number of people COLLECTING these transfer payments will be substantial, and this doesn’t even begin to address the productivity problems associated with a society in which a substantial number of people are retired and not contributing to the nation’s output.

Sigh…. at least it looks great today, right?

Written by johnkilpatrick

February 3, 2012 at 10:10 am

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