Data visualization and storytelling


Decoding UK elections with interactive visualizations

Explore 6 ways to visualize political shifts with Flourish's versatile templates, from polling insights to post-election breakdowns

With a new general election in 2024 on the horizon, the ever-changing world of UK politics is buzzing with anticipation. As citizens prepare to engage in the democratic process once again, understanding and visualizing election data becomes paramount.

In this blog post, we’ll be your guide to crafting innovative visualizations that bring the twists and turns of British politics to life.

The visualizations featured in this post were created specifically with the UK elections in mind, but are relevant for any other elections, too.

1. Before elections: visualize polling data

Visualizing polling data is a crucial part of the run-up to any election. Polls aim to gauge the preferences and sentiments of voters. This information is invaluable for political analysts, candidates, and policymakers as it offers insights into the potential outcomes of elections.

Visualizing polling data effectively allows for identifying trends and shifts in public opinion. It provides a basis for predicting election results and helps citizens stay informed about the political landscape.

With a Scatter chart, you can both present individual polls (visualized as dots) and the average across them (visualized as lines).

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Another important metric to visualize in the UK is the approval rating of the current prime minister. Using our Line, Bar, Pie template, you can visualize the (potential) ups and downs of current and previous prime ministers.

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2. Visualizing election results

Our Election Results Chart template is the perfect choice when it comes to showing who won (or is on track to win) an election.

As in the example below, it shows the vote share for each party. It is also possible to insert historic results – if done so, the percentage point change from the previous election is automatically calculated.

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Equally, the Parliament Chart template is perfect for showing the number of seats owned by each party. Each dot represents one seat in the House of Commons and the dots are colored by the party owning the seat. Again, additional information such as the change in seats compared to the previous election can be shown in a table underneath.

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In any election, people want to know what the results were where they live.

Using our Table template, you can make the election results more accessible to everyone by creating a searchable database. This allows people to easily locate their constituency and view the winning party, vote share, and change since the last election.

Pro tip: Add party logos or a mini bar chart to make it more visually appealing!

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4. Go into more detail with maps

To display the results for each constituency more visually and offer more detail and regional insights, they can be plotted on a map using our Projection Map template.

When it comes to visualizing constituencies, our hex maps are a great choice. They give equal visual weighting to each region, ensuring small city constituencies aren’t hidden.

But, you still have the option to create a more traditional map where the constituencies are sized by their actual size.

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If a General Election is happening this year, a shift from Conservative to Labour is predicted.

This can be visualized using an Electoral Swing map. Election swings show the extent of change in voter support for a political party, from one election to the next, and is typically expressed as a positive or negative percentage point change.

It’s important to note that swing arrow maps may not provide sufficient context for readers as a swing towards one party does not necessarily mean that the party won the area. It only indicates an improvement compared to the previous election and another, third, party may have won.

However, the arrows can be colored by the winning party and together with the direction of the arrow, the readers can grasp the shifts in a given region. Read our help doc to learn how to create your own arrow map.

Alternatively, the flipped seats can be visualized using a chloropleth map, only highlighting those areas where a change of seat happened.

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You can either upload your own map regions or check if the region you need is included in our GeoJSON repository.

Looking for USA hex maps? Check out our blog on visualizing US elections for more.

4. Post-election: Flows and changes

Similarly, changes and shifts from one party to another on a national level can be shown using a Column chart. In the example below, the bars are colored by the favored party and sized by the change in percentage points.

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In any election, constituencies may change hands, meaning where one party has won before, another has taken over.

Our Sankey template is ideal for showing flows between parties. The example below shows the changes in winning parties in UK constituencies between the 2017 and 2019 election.

Between the two elections, 48 constituencies in the UK have changed from Labour to Conservative.

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5. Post-election: Candidate and voter analysis

The election results may be officially announced, but that doesn’t mean the analysis and visualization of the data is over.

In fact, many more areas can be focused on, for example looking for patterns and trends that can offer insights into the preferences and behaviors of voters. Through this process, we can gain a deeper understanding of our political system and the people who participate in it.

For example, in 2019, age was a key demographic factor in how people voted. According to Ipsos MORI, Labour had a **43-point lead **amongst voters aged 18-24, while the Conservatives had a 47-point lead amongst voters aged over 65.

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Another metric is how many people have actually voted, also called turnout.

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With our premium Data Explorer template, you can visualize the characteristics of those elected, focusing on their gender, party and experience as an MP.

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6. Examining key concerns of the UK population before, during, and after elections

At any point before, during or after an election, it’s always beneficial to assess crucial issues that the UK is currently experiencing, as determined by polls. This provides valuable insight into what the public is thinking and prioritizing.

An Area chart provides insight into the issues the public is caring about and how they are developing over time. As seen below, one ongoing issue is the NHS and its funding, with concerns over waiting times and access to care.

We can also see that especially before the 2019 election, one of the most pressing issues for the UK were the ongoing Brexit negotiations and its impact on the economy, trade and immigration.

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Brexit was among the most significant issues during the 2019 election, and it had a significant impact on how people voted. This is why it’s crucial to visualize the data and comprehend the extent of its influence.

The scatter plot below shows the strength of the vote for, firstly, the Conservatives and, secondly, Labour compared with the support for Leave in the 2016 EU Referendum.

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The Sankey diagram below shows the share of constituencies voting Leave and Remain in 2016, according to the estimates, and how they voted in the 2019 General Election.

Tip: In Sankey, you can now decide whether you want the links colored by the source or target (in this case, by the EU Referendum result or the winning party of the 2019 election).

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Automatically update Flourish visualizations

Staying up to date on election night is paramount for anyone seeking a real-time understanding of the unfolding political landscape. And automating pre-election coverage, especially polling data, is an effective way to streamline the process. This guarantees that insights are not only accurate but also delivered promptly – and gives you time to focus on other election graphics and content.

Flourish’s Live CSV capability and the Flourish API become invaluable tools in this regard, enabling seamless integration and automated updates.

You can either use our premium Live CSV feature which allows you to pull data from a remote source and republish graphics automatically when the data changes. Alternatively, you can use the Flourish API to connect a Flourish visualization to a live data source.

If you’d like to learn more about these options, get in touch.

Looking for more election coverage?

We hope these examples inspire your elections coverage and help you communicate your data in a meaningful and insightful way. To learn how to make some of these charts yourself, watch our webinar “How to effectively visualize elections data” below.