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Bad Chart Thursday: UK Elections Edition

Elections bring out some of the best examples of terrible charts, and the recent UK general elections were no exception. Throughout the campaigns and in the most recent reporting of results, we can find everything from blatant manipulation to hilarious mistakes.

Manipulating scale on bar charts was the most commonly used “tactic.” (I’m using scare quotes because I’m not sure if the tactic was intended to get votes or to insult the intelligence of every person looking at the chart.)

LibDem bar graph

Source: Robin Fisk

LibDem bar graph2

Source: Phil Maylor

LibDem bar graph 3

Source: Mark Wood




















And of course, we have the truncated axis to exaggerate a difference that is not even outside the margin of error for poll results, courtesy of The Sun:

ScotlandPM

Even after the elections were over, the results reporting was skewed:

CEbzKB6XIAAL3Nr

In the Haringey Council elections, apparently a new political party, the Lynne party, gave Labour a run for its money. There must be a ton of Lynnes living in that area to require their own party to represent them. Not enough Lynnes, however–they lost to the Catherine party.

Lynne party

Source: Michael Ertl

This election also brought out a relatively new kind of chart, which is as much fun to figure out as untangling a knotted-up ball of yarn. I am, in fact, 99.9% sure the chart was made by a cat. This topic interaction graph is intended to depict tweets on the hashtag #leadersdebate. It might be comprehensible if the same colors weren’t used for different topics, but to be fair, cats are color blind.

Yarn graph

Source: Philip Habel

Another chart related to the election issues is the pie chart that missed its calling as a bar chart. Brought to us by The Sun, this chart is intended to show the percentage of British voters who chose each topic as a top priority in the election, information that doesn’t really lend itself to pie chart display because the percentages don’t add up to 100. They aren’t really pieces of a coherent whole.

Issues Pie Chart

But the winner of the funniest election chart mistake goes to this chart, a “spot the error” shared on Twitter by Joseph Willits.

WrongMiliband

I’ll give you a hint (I needed one). Here are photos of Ed Milliband (left), the Labour party candidate for PM, and his brother, David Miliband (right).

Ed_Miliband

Source: Wikicommons

David_Miliband

Source: Wikicommons


















Oops.

And finally, for all you UK voters who are disappointed by the outcome of the recent elections, here’s a reassuring chart from Joel Tennant:

CEb54XvWoAQJAEY

Melanie Mallon

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

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5 Comments

  1. May 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm —

    Melanie Mallon,

    I have some internet buddies over in the United Kingdom that will be entertained by this.

    By the way, come the 2016 US presidential election, I would like you to do a Bad Chart Thursday: Presidential Election Edition.

  2. May 14, 2015 at 11:58 pm —

    Off topic, but to cheer people up:
    In the last 9 weeks, there have been just 3 cases of polio reported worldwide (all in Pakistan, all ‘wild type’.) In the corresponding 9 weeks last year there were 49 cases worldwide, 40 wild type, 9 vaccine derived. (38 Pakistan, 1 Afghanistan, 5 Nigeria, 5 various ‘non-endemic’ countries.)

    The most recent (hopefully last ever) case of wild polio in Africa was 11 August last year, over 9 months ago. The most recent polio case of any kind in Africa was a vaccine-derived case on 16 November 2014.

    Source: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx plus a spreadsheet I’ve kept of their old results.

    (Note these numbers record when the cases were reported to central authorities, not when they happened. There can be a couple of weeks delay in reporting.)

    My personal (not scientifically informed) bet is that the last ever polio case will be early next year.

  3. May 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm —

    Dat graph with the yarn. I don’t even get the point of that. Who ever designed that graph?

    On the feminism front, I mostly remember Galloway questioning whether or not Naz Shah was in a forced marriage because her mother was present? If you want to see why Third World feminism ends up going to conservative parties, this. This is why. This is what I’ve been talking about for the last couple weeks. We’ve abandoned the Naz Shahs and Ayaan Hirsi Alis because we don’t want to look like a bunch of xenophobes. #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

    (Bizarrely, the most intersectional article I’ve seen in several years, besides an opinion piece by Huma Munshi on this exact thing, was from a right-wing site. Go figure.)

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