Data visualization and storytelling


Seven ways to visualize the US midterms with Flourish

Flourish helps you get through election night with these free templates to use in your coverage before, during and after the vote.

There is an updated version of this blogpost over here, containing even more tips and templates!

With the US midterms fast approaching, newsrooms across the country — and the world — are preparing and fine-tuning their election night plans. Who’s covering what race? What sources will we go to first? What’s the range of possible results?

Beyond just good traditional journalism, readers have also come to expect good visual reporting during and after election night. But these kind of projects can take up large amounts of time and resources. So here’s our US Midterms Election Package to easily provide your readers with high quality, great looking visualizations during your midterms coverage.

1. Parliament chart

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The first question everyone wants answered, of course, is Who won? By using our parliament chart, you can provide your readers with this information quickly and visually.

This example shows how many seats the Democrats and Republicans won in the House of Representatives in 2014 and 2016, but we’ve also made a blank template for this year with the 2016 results preloaded and an extra ‘Not yet called’ column so you can update the results as they come in.

Flourish allows you to edit and easily re-publish your visualizations, so you can even start election night with a blank data tab and add to it as results come in — a simple way to build an updating dashboard.

2. Election results chart

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Another way to visualize who won seats and who lost seats is to use our simple stacked election bar chart.

This example shows the 2016 results for the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, but it could just as easily be used to show who wins control of state legislatures or city councils. It’s possible to add regions to the dropdown to see the result in your specific region.

Here’s a blank template for the US House and Senate that you can fill in on election night as results come in.

3. Scatter

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In the hours and days after the election, readers want to know the why and the how. Why did the election turn out the way it did? How did Party A increase its vote share? How did Candidate B come up short? Scatter plots are a great tool for this kind of analysis.

In addition to showing the relationship between two main variables — in this example, the median income of each US congressional district and the share of votes cast in that district for Donald Trump in 2016 — our template also enables you to visualize secondary variables, such as dot color and size. Next to that it’s also possible to add additional information to each dot in a popup.

4. US State and Congressional District maps

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You can use our new map templates to visualize the voting results for every congressional district (but we also have states and county maps available).

But what if you work for a newspaper in Chicago, and on election night you want to have an map on your homepage that shows the results of the race for each seat in the state legislature? If you have boundary data for your local area, you can upload it to the map template to automatically generate a map for that region. Check out our video tutorial for a more in-depth guide.

5. Horserace

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The horserace is like a line chart — but much more fun. They’re particularly good for visualizing the polling of volatile races because the animation gives you an almost physical sense of the contest — the peaks, the troughs, the changes in position. On the day after the election, in a piece breaking down how a Senate or gubernatorial race turned out, a horse race chart can also provide a bit of recall, reminding readers of the narrative turns they may have forgot.

6. Survey

Data from Daily Kos

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Sometimes it’s a good idea to let the audience explore the results themselves. With our survey template you can import race outcomes and readers can sort, color, filter and interrogate the data with minimal interference from you.

In the example above, each circle — and thus each row in the dataset — represents a current member of Congress. But you might be covering a city council election and your rows might be different wards, or you might be covering the race for the state legislature and your rows might be the candidates for all of the seats.

7. AR Congressional District map

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This one was just launched in time for our blogpost. Our friends over at Google News Initiative created this very cool AR Congressional district map. In this map all district are represented by equal sized hexagons that can be colored in based on which party won that district.

Just move your phone (or mouse) around to see the election results by party and district.

8. Anything else?

Is there a visualization type missing from this list that you think would be really useful to have in Flourish? We would love to hear about it, just send us an email at