Maps, Colors & More of the 2017 French Presidential Election – Critique of Data Story

With the anticipation of the results of the French presidential election in full swing, NY Times used maps and graphs to help readers understand the results thus far. How did they do? Well, let’s take a look.

In an article titled, “How the Election Split France”, readers get a brief description as to what the first round of voting results are with pictures of the candidates and their poll ratings provided, followed by two maps of France, each demonstrating the areas of support for the top two candidates: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Using blue to represent Macron and red for Le Pen, the illustrator used lighter shades to represent less support and a darker shade for greater support. The maps provide enough information to show where each candidate received more support since it is obvious there was greater support based on the darker color of that specific area.

The article also includes a map of France where a color represents each of the candidates. However, this map can be interpreted incorrectly because the map shows a significantly greater amount of salmon (representing Le Pen) than baby blue (representing Macron), yet Macron received a greater percentage (24.0% compared to Le Pen’s 21.3%). Also, the map includes a color for Jean Lassalle and not Benoît Hamon, even though they mention Hamon in the article and not Lassalle.

The final component of the article focuses on how neither the Socialist or Republican party will win the election this year and then using a graph to show that between the 2012 and 2017 elections, there was an influx in support of “Other parties”.

Overall, the article did a decent job in displaying the results of the election. I thought the colors were helpful in the first graphic, but not as effective in the second graphic since the colors were misleading to the results and there was some confusion involving the candidates.

Yet, the reader can takeaway from the article that this election is close and a game changer.

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