2008 Political Dashboards for the Election Home Stretch

Election Results Dashboard Update: Here are the latest election returns as viewed from a New York Times home page “pop-up” dashboard:

Click on the link below to launch the Pop-up Dashboard:


Here is a screen capture of the NY Times 2008 Election Dashboard from after the election:

Political Dashboard

This has been a banner year for political dashboards and visualizations. The “At-a-Glance Political Dashboard” zeitgeist of this election year is evidenced by the appearance of all manners of interactive maps, information visualizations and calculators. Gone are the days of the simple static diagrams of the red and blue states. Turn on any news channel and you’ll see election data maps zooming and drilling and jumping up and down.

For the home stretch of the election, I bring your attention to several dashboards. As I said, this year’s bumper crop of political dashboards gives us plenty to choose from so let me explain why I focus on these particular election dashboards.

The Yahoo! Election Dashboard remains the heavy favorite when it comes to political dashboards. Simply because of its popularity, I have to list it as a must-visit political dashboard. Hailed as a great example of a useful and usable RIA (Rich Internet Application), it allows a close examination of the candidates on a state-by-state basis. The Yahoo Political Dashboard Project is a collaboration between Yahoo, Intrade and RealClearPolitics. Watching the evolution of this dashboard has been insightful. The front page of this election dashboard has morphed appropriately through all the phases of the election process. For a look at what this dashboard looked like back in February, revisit the Dashboards By Example post when we called the Yahoo dashboard the “Best Political Dashboard of 2008“. Compare it to today’s dashboard screenshot:

Yahoo! Political Dashboard
(Click to visit Yahoo Election Dashboard)

iDashboard’s 2008 Presidential Election Dashboard is another dashboard I like to point out because it is a dashboard that comes from a business intelligence dashboard vendor. The company developed a popular Olympic Games Dashboard that we profiled here and has followed up that effort with this election dashboard. The application is built on a Flex-based architecture and uses Flash animation to provide a detailed breakdown of candidate support by race, age, state, gender, marital status and educational background. Additional information includes a map of state electoral votes and financial
details about the political parties. The Presidential Election Dashboard uses color-coded graphs to enable voters to identify and track candidate support. To obtain finer details, users can utilize the hover-and-click capability to drill-down further, examining specific elements; in this case the candidates’ support groups.

Here is the screenshot of the iDashboards political dashboard:

idashboards political dashboard
(Click to visit iDashboards Political Dashboard)


Doug Marttila’s Election Center 2008 is interesting project from a savvy Flex/Flash data visualization pro. I select his visualization work to detail whenever possible because he is so willing to share his insights. For this election dashboard project, Doug explains why he chose the tree map for the visualization:

I built the election charts to see the states as a tree map. Tree maps allow viewers to quickly see relative values of items. They’re similar to pie charts in that all items add up to 100%. But, tree maps can be a bit easier to understand when there is a lot of data (a rectangle is easier to judge
than a wedge) and they support hierarchical data better. In this case, they provided an alternative to the geographic map view that shows state by state presidential election polls. Maps are great because people are already familiar with them – it’s easy to find state’s poll numbers because you know
where to look. But, the area in geographic maps is misleading (just take a look at all the different mapping projections out there). Basically, I wanted to quickly see which state had the most electoral votes – not where a state is located geographically.

So, the key to the chart:

  • Number of electoral votes = size of rectangle
  • Color = whether the current polls (I’m averaging the last 3 polls) have the state leaning Obama or McCain. (Dark blue and dark red are 10%+ in either direction. Absolute tie is white. And 0-10% is a gradation of color)

I also grouped the states into strong, leaning, and toss up. 3% points or less is a toss up. 3-10 is leaning. and 30%+ is strong.

You can click on a groups heading to zoom into see just that group.

On the second tab, you can look at the data grid and see exactly which polls are included in the averages. You can also select and deselect polls to include in the average.

Finally, the summary (the first tab), gives a quick overall picture. The columns are sorted so the states that are strongest for each candidate are at the bottom. The height of each rectangle withing a column corresponds to that state’s electoral vote count. The color matches the color in the tree

You can roll-over most charts to get more info about a specific state.

Forest and Trees Election Center 2008 Data Tree Map
(Click to visit Doug Marttila’s Election Center 2008 Dashboard)


I always like to feature the work of Xcelsius pro Kalyan Verma of MyXcelsius.com because he has the heart of a teacher and always takes a transparent, “roll up our sleeves” approach. In his post 2008 Electoral College Calculator using Crystal Xcelsius, he explains how he replicated a Wall Street Journal interactive calculator with Xcelsius 2008.

This is a brief description about how i built it. Many Xcelsius developers should be able to understand. As you can see i used the USA Map component and i carefully placed the icon components over each state (Tedious work Phew…). The reason for the icons was to allow the user to click on a state and insert the relevant value in the cell corresponding to the State. I set Alerts for the states so that they display Red or Blue depending on the value inserted by the icon. The rest of the calculator is simple label components and other basic Xcelsius stuff. Most of the time was spent on the overall look and feel of the calculator.

Here’s a screenshot of the electoral college calculator:

Electoral College Calculator
(Click to visit the MyXcelsius Electoral College Calculator.)

Kalyan does us all a favor by surveying 12 election dashboards in his post, 12 Ways to Pick Your New President.

Here is a screenshot of the election dashboards, he points his readers to. Remember, this is just an image, so visit the MyXcelsius.com post to click on the links.

12 Election Dashboards
(Click to visit MyXcelsius.com’s 12 Election Dashboards.)

Tags: Round Up of Political Dashboards, Election dashboard, flash dashboards, flex, xcelsius

Note: This is a post about business intelligence dashboards from the Dashboard Spy. You may be reading this from a “scraped” source. Be sure to visit the original Dashboard Spy sites for the original context. Dashboards.TV, Dashboards By Example, Business Intelligence White Papers.