One of the key purposes of a chart or graph is to distill a lot of complicated information into a simple graphic so readers can quickly draw conclusions. In the midst of a crowded field of people who may (or may not) be vying to be the Republican candidate for president in 2012, one chart attempts to do just that.
This chart has two axes: moderate to conservative and insider to outsider. While these may be fuzzy concepts, creator Nate Silver suggests these axes give us some important information:
With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes.
Silver then goes on to explain two other pieces of information for each candidate that is part of the circle used to place each candidate on the graph: the color indicates the region and the size of the circle represents their relative stock on Intrade.
Based on this chart, it looks like we have a diagonal running from top left to bottom right, from moderate insider (Mitt Romney) to conservative outsider (Sarah Palin) with Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee trying to straddle the middle. We will have to see how this plays out.
But as a statistics professor who is always on the lookout for cool ways of presenting information, this is an interesting graphic.