How to draw a political bar chart – part 3

In 1980, after success in the Iowa caucuses in the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination, George Bush Sr declared:

“What we will have is momentum. We will look forward to Big Mo being on our side, as they say in athletics.”

Political momentum can mean a lot in elections – people might switch to a party if they think it’s in with a chance of winning. (Though Bush Sr eventually lost out to Ronald Reagan.)

In “How to draw a political bar chart – part 1”, I included this chart:


The pointed top is used to imply Party 2 is on its way up. Of course, Party 3 wouldn’t find this particularly useful.

But Party 3 might want to imply political momentum is on its side – voters are rallying to its cause. One way it might do this is to show changes in votes from one election to another. Say things were like this:

Last time Last but one Change
Party 1      16,000 18,000 Down 2,000
Party 2      12,000 14,000 Down 2,000
Party 3        7,000 4,000 Up 3,000
Party 4        3,000 2,000 Up 1,000
Party 5        2,000 2,000 No change

Party 3 might use this bar chart:


They might even put down arrows on Party 1 and Party 2 to further emphasise the changes.

Other ways in which this technique is used is with changes in numbers of votes from general election to local election, changes in vote shares, and national opinion poll movements.

If you’ve seen a bar chart that is more than a little creative, please get in touch.

NB: none of the above should be seen as endorsing or criticising any particular technique.

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