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August 17, 2016

The Data School Gym - Running to the middle ground


This Data School Gym challenge is nothing more than a remake of an existing chart. I was reading Andy Kirk’s great series “The Little of Visualisation Design” and he showcased a chart from The Economist. From Andy’s blog:

"Typically, charts like this would have categorical value labels right-aligned to the left of the vertical axis. However, in this case, the labels are positioned with immediate proximity just to the right of the highest value - which is the value used to order the categories vertically. This approach aids readability, making it just that little bit more efficient to perceive the values and their associated categories."

According to The Economist, this chart shows:

"In every state where exit polling from this year’s primaries is comparable with the previous competitive cycle (2012 for the Republicans and 2008 for the Democrats), more voters have described themselves as “conservative” on the Republican side and “liberal” on the Democratic one."

I thought this would be a fun chart to try to rebuild in Tableau. I recreated the data manually, which you can download here. Note that the data probably isn’t 100% accurate to the original chart; I did the best I could and that’s not the point anyway. The point is to practice, practice, practice.

Some hints:

  1. This is three charts.
  2. I used 100% floating objects.
  3. The vertical and horizontal lines were added manually.
  4. Each event has its own sort: The top is sorted by Conservatives, the second by Liberals and the third by Moderates.
  5. The shading must span from the smallest to largest value for each event and state.

Give it a shot. I didn’t think this one was too terribly difficult. The toughest parts for me were getting the layout just right.


  1. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for this exercice. Here is my version:!/vizhome/DataSchoolGym-Runningtothemiddleground/Runningtothemiddleground

    I chose not to use floating elements in the dashboard. Is there a reason why you decided to make your sheets floating?

    Have a nice day.

    1. I did that because I wanted to get as close to the original as I could. That required floating 3 sheets and floating some images for the lines. Having three sheets also allowed me to make the axis ticks look like the original and label the top and bottom.

  2. Technically Andy you didn't meet requirement 4 ;) Gonna give this a go tonight.

    1. Good point! The chart should be sorted by Conservatives, then Liberals, then Moderates for each chart respectively.