The Fix: Charts

Why Republicans feel so good about the 2014 midterms, in 1 chart

Why Republicans feel so good about the 2014 midterms, in 1 chart

Talk to any Republican strategist these days about the November midterm elections and you will get a response very much like this: "It's still early, but I like where we are. A lot." That semi-guarded, we're-not-spiking-the-football-but-we-think-we-will-be-spiking-it-in-November mentality is based on one simple calculation: That midterm elections are almost always a battle between the two parties' bases -- and while the GOP is super-activated heading into the fall, the Democratic base is most decidedly not.

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How we stopped speaking Yiddish

How we stopped speaking Yiddish

In 1980, the five most common non-English languages spoken in the United States were (in order): Spanish, Italian, German, French and Polish. Thirty years later, the top five are (in order): Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

That change, documented by the U.S. Census and flagged for us by Drew DeSilver of the Pew Research Center, provides a telling window into the demographic changes in the country over the past few decades. Check out this chart that details how the 17 most common non-English languages in 1980 have fared over the past 30 years. (Click the chart for a bigger image.)

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The diminishing productivity of Congress, in one chart

The diminishing productivity of Congress, in one chart

If you're even a casual observer of Congress, you're probably already familiar with the following reality: The 113th Congress has done very, very little.

Just how little? The Washington Post's Paul Kane put it into perspective in an article in Monday's paper. He writes:

According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.

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Why Democrats should be worried about the youth vote

Why Democrats should be worried about the youth vote

It may seem like Democrats should be pretty happy with young voters. After all, President Obama twice won at least 60 percent of voters between the age of 18 and 29 -- outpacing all other presidential candidates spanning the last three decades.

But a closer look reveals some troubling signs for the party. Young voter turnout is nothing like it was in the 1980s and early 1990s. And the stagnation has been driven by an across-the-board disinterest among several demographic groups. It's a potential problem for Democrats, because we're talking about a slice of the electorate which has sided with the party during the last six presidential elections.

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The American electorate: Partisan and super predictable

The American electorate: Partisan and super predictable

We live in very partisan times; everyone knows this.

But few things demonstrate the degree of that partisanship like the two charts below, which come courtesy of the blogger (and contributor to the liberal blog Daily Kos) Xenocrypt.

Both charts compare how each congressional district voted for president in two successive elections. The first compares how they voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, while the second compares how they voted for two-time Democratic candidate (and two-time loser) Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.

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The day World War II left the Senate (in two charts)

The day World War II left the Senate (in two charts)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D-N.J.) decision to retire from the Senate after the 2014 election means the upper chamber will soon say good-bye to its last veteran of World War II.

(Assuming, of course, that no vets run for and win another Senate seat in 2014 -- something that is highly unlikely given they are all at least in their mid-80s.)

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A gun ownership boom?

A gun ownership boom?

Even as Americans have become more and more opposed to new gun control measures in recent years, the actual number of households owning guns has declined.

Until recently, that is.

The following chart, from the Violence Policy Center, tracks gun ownership in American households from 1973 to 2010. (The VPC is a pro-gun control interest group, but the data are from the nonpartisan General Social Survey.)

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Why Obama won the 2012 election (in one chart)

The conservative polling group Resurgent Republic is out with a great new graphic this morning breaking down turnout among key demographic groups in the 2012 election.

The chart, better than about anything else we've seen, shows why President Obama won reelection so handily.

And in the face of what appeared to be a Democratic enthusiasm gap, no less.

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The cautionary tale of George Bush's tax hike in one chart

The cautionary tale of George Bush's tax hike   in one chart

So just what kind of price would Republicans pay for breaking their pledges and voting to raise taxes?

If history is any judge, it certainly won't help. Above, we look at a Gallup chart of George H.W. Bush's approval ratings at two key junctures during the budget debate of 1990.

The first line is from the end of June, when Bush said for the first time that he would push for a tax increase, in contrast to his previous "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge. His approval rating dropped from 69 percent to 60 percent by mid-July.

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How redistricting leads to a more partisan Congress — in two charts

How redistricting leads to a more partisan Congress — in two charts

Think Congress is too partisan? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The once-in-a-decade redistricting process has taken the nation’s already-polarized congressional map and — you guessed it! — made it even more polarized, says a new study from the nonpartisan election reform group Fair Vote.

According to the group’s analysis, 89 of 435 congressional districts performed between 46 percent and 54 percent for each major political party in recent years. In other words, those were the real swing districts.

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“Are you better off than you were 4 years ago” — 1 chart tries to answer that

“Are you better off than you were 4 years ago” — 1 chart tries to answer that

For former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to win in four weeks time, he needs voters to have a single question on their minds when they enter their polling place: “Am I better off than I was four years ago?”

There are all sorts of data points that both parties cite to answer that question (for Democrats it’s private sector job creation, for Republicans it’s things like the soaring number of people on food stamps) but one really good way to look at the “are you better off” question is to compare how much a family was making four years ago to how much they are making today.

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The politics of race and religion — in two pie charts

The politics of race and religion — in two pie charts

Republicans are the party of white evangelicals. Democrats are the party of minorities and those without any traditional religious affiliation.

Stereotypes? Absolutely. But, according to a study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life of all of the organization’s polling so far in 2012, at least partially accurate — if not entirely illustrative of the full face of either party.

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Why 2012 isn’t 2008 — in 1 chart

Why 2012 isn’t 2008 — in 1 chart

There’s been lots (and lots) written about how and why the 2008 election and the 2012 contest are so different.

But, we’ve never seen the case made so clearly as in a new chart put together by Simon Jackman, a professor of political science at Stanford University.

What Jackman aimed to do is compare how Obama performed in each state in 2008 against where polling suggests he is in that same state today — based on his 2012 polling average in each state.

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Why super PACs aren’t the big 2012 story — in 1 chart

Why super PACs aren’t the big 2012 story — in 1 chart

Everywhere you turn in the 2012 election, you hear about the influence of super PACs.

But focusing on how much influence these groups, which can accept unlimited contributions but have to report everything they raise and spend to the Federal Election Commission, are bringing to bear on the race badly misses the point.

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Like Angry Birds? You’re a swing voter.

Ever wonder what sites we tend to visit most frequently on the Internet — you know, the series of tubes — say about our political leanings? Us too.

Now we have some answers thanks to a very cool project from Engage DC, a Republican consulting company with a digital focus.

The chart, a bigger version of which you can see here, is absolutely fascinating. (For more on the methodology, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

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President Obama’s job creation problem — in one chart (with caveats)

In less than 24 hours, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its July jobs report, which, if early indicators are to be trusted, won’t be the sort of turnaround that President Obama and his political team are hoping for in advance of the fall campaign.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is sure to seize on a status quo (or worse) report as yet more evidence that Obama’s economic policies have made things worse not better over the last four years.

But how do Obama’s first three-plus years as chief steward of the U.S. economy — as measured in job gains and the unemployment rate — stack up against the men who have previously held the office?

Not so well, according to a terrific infographic put together by the folks at Political Math. (You can read more about that blog here.)

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What garbage can tell us about the direction of the economy — in 1 chart

It turns out that what we throw out or, more accurately, how much we throw out, tells us a lot about the general economic direction of the country.

At least, that is, according to calculations by economist Michael McDonough, who has produced an absolutely fascinating chart that shows the remarkable correlation between carloads of waste (as calculated by the American Association of Railroads) and the U.S. gross domestic product.

Here’s McDonough’s chart (and you can read more about his methodology here):

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How people consume political news — in one chart

Conventional campaign wisdom dictates that the surest strategy for success is to raise as much money as possible and then spend it all on television ads in the final weeks of a race.

A look at the spending already in this presidential campaign — President Obama dropped $38 million on TV ads in June and has spent $107 million on commercials so far — suggests that television remains king when it comes to politics.

And yet, the massive growth of the web, tablets and smart phones have already begun to cut into just how determinative television is in a campaign — as voters are now consuming much more of their information through this panoply of devices.

The good people at Google have put the numbers together in a single chart that tells the story of peoples’ political news consumption habits.

Here’s the chart (and click here to see a larger version):

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Why President Obama’s reelection is no sure thing — in 2 charts

Judging from the coverage of the presidential race over the past few weeks — questions about Mitt Romney’s staff, his exact departure date from Bain Capital and whether or not he should release his tax returns — you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s time for President Obama to break out the champagne and start celebrating his likely re-election in November.

But to draw that conclusion ignores the broader currents at work in the political waters, currents that will make it very tough for President Obama to win a second term almost no matter what Romney does between now and this fall.

Once you step back from the day to day knife fight of the campaign — and make no mistake that Obama is getting in more and better swipes than Romney at this point — you’re reminded that the overarching dynamic of this race is the sputtering economy and a continued lack of confidence within the electorate that things are or will get better.

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An economic chart that will make the White House smile

An economic chart that will make the White House smile

The politics of the economy are 95 perception, five percent reality. (Maybe it’s 90/10 but we aren’t willing to go any lower than that.)

Most people are detached from the nitty-gritty details of economic strength or weakness — U6 for the win! — and tend to judge the health of the economy on how they it affects their own lives.

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