It is 18 months until US citizens will have decided to keep their current president or roll in another. While hard many to imagine, this means that chatter is starting now about who will be running for election. This means that we have already started to hear sound bites about why A is better than B and how party X did this and party Y did that. Naturally, bikini statistics will play a major part in the discussion. Or rather, will be used as a tool to bamboozle the electorate.
It doesn't have to be that way.
With services like d8taplex, Timetric, BuzzData, Socrata and other data engines, there is a real opportunity to help people cut through the mumbo-jumbo and go directly to data assets to help make better informed decisions and, perhaps more importantly, to hold the circus accountable for honesty in the use and presentation of data.
A simple idea that I plan to further play with is to create data sets in d8taplex as well as some specialized visualizations to help people understand a number of key points:
- The statistical history of their parties
- Relative measures of different countries (what does a country with good health care look like?)
- Straight forward presentations of scientific data (should we invest in ethanol?)
I rattled out an example of the first area tonight. The graph below shows the spend on national defense in billions of FY 2000 dollars. Overlaid on this data set are coloured areas that represent the party in power at any given time (red = republican, blue = democrat). The data is taken from www.census.gov and is available currently in d8taplex (though not in the form below and not as discoverable as it could be).