Tag: politics

# Zeit’s interactive visualization of the 2019 European election results

Zeit — the German newspaper — analyzed recent election results in over 80,000 regions of Europe. They discovered many patterns – from the radical left to the extremist right. Moreover, they allow you to find patterns yourself, among others in your own region.

They published the summarized election results in this beautiful interactive map of Europe.

The map is beautifully color-coded for the dominant political view (Conservative, Green, Liberal, Socialist, Far left, or Far right) per region. Moreover, you can select these views and look for regions where they received respectively many votes. Like in the below, where I opted for the Liberal view, which finds strongest support in regions of the Netherlands, France, Czechia, Romania, Denmark, Estonia, and Finland.

For instance, the region of Tilburg in the Netherlands — where I live — voted mostly Liberal, as depicted by the yellow Netherlands. In contrast, in the German border regions conservative and socialist parties received most votes, whereas in the Belgian border regions uncategorizable parties received most votes.

Zeit discovered some cool patterns themselves as well, as discussed in the original article. These include:

• Right-Wing Populists in Poland
• North-South divides in Italy and Spain
• Considerable support for regional parties in Catalonia, Belgium, Scotland and Italy
• Dominant Green and Liberal views in the Netherlands, France, and Germany

Have a look yourself, it’s a great example of open access data-driven journalism!

# Learn from the Pros: How media companies visualize data

Past months, multiple companies shared their approaches to data visualization and their lessons learned.

Click the companies in the list below to jump to their respective section

## Financial Times

The Financial Times (FT) released a searchable database of the many data visualizations they produced over the years. Some lovely examples include:

## BBC

The BBC released a free cookbook for data visualization using R programming. Here is the associated Medium post announcing the book.

The BBC data team developed an R package (bbplot) which makes the process of creating publication-ready graphics in their in-house style using R’s ggplot2 library a more reproducible process, as well as making it easier for people new to R to create graphics.

Apart from sharing several best practices related to data visualization, they walk you through the steps and R code to create graphs such as the below:

## Economist

The data team at the Economist also felt a need to share their lessons learned via Medium. They show some of their most misleading, confusing, and failing graphics of the past years, and share the following mistakes and their remedies:

• Truncating the scale (image #1 below)
• Forcing a relationship by cherry-picking scales
• Choosing the wrong visualisation method (image #2 below)
• Taking the “mind-stretch” a little too far (image #3 below)
• Confusing use of colour (image #4 below)
• Including too much detail
• Lots of data, not enough space

Moreover, they share the data behind these failing and repaired data visualizations:

## FiveThirtyEight

I could not resist including this (older) overview of the 52 best charts FiveThirtyEight claimed they made.

All 538’s data visualizations are just stunningly beautiful and often very
ingenious, using new chart formats to display complex patterns. Moreover, the range of topics they cover is huge. Anything ranging from their traditional background — politics — to great cover stories on sumo wrestling and pricy wine.

# Variance Explained: Text Mining Trump’s Twitter – Part 2

##### Reposted from Variance Explained with minor modifications. This post follows an earlier post on the same topic.

A year ago today, I wrote up a blog post Text analysis of Trump’s tweets confirms he writes only the (angrier) Android half.

My analysis, shown below, concludes that the Android and iPhone tweets are clearly from different people, posting during different times of day and using hashtags, links, and retweets in distinct ways. What’s more, we can see that the Android tweets are angrier and more negative, while the iPhone tweets tend to be benign announcements and pictures.

Of course, a lot has changed in the last year. Trump was elected and inaugurated, and his Twitter account has become only more newsworthy. So it’s worth revisiting the analysis, for a few reasons:

• There is a year of new data, with over 2700 more tweets. And quite notably, Trump stopped using the Android in March 2017. This is why machine learning approaches like didtrumptweetit.com are useful since they can still distinguish Trump’s tweets from his campaign’s by training on the kinds of features I used in my original post.
• I’ve found a better dataset: in my original analysis, I was working quickly and used the twitteR package to query Trump’s tweets. I since learned there’s a bug in the package that caused it to retrieve only about half the tweets that could have been retrieved, and in any case, I was able to go back only to January 2016. I’ve since found the truly excellent Trump Twitter Archive, which contains all of Trump’s tweets going back to 2009. Below I show some R code for querying it.
• I’ve heard some interesting questions that I wanted to follow up on: These come from the comments on the original post and other conversations I’ve had since. Two questions included what device Trump tended to use before the campaign, and what types of tweets tended to lead to high engagement.

So here I’m following up with a few more analyses of the \@realDonaldTrump account. As I did last year, I’ll show most of my code, especially those that involve text mining with the tidytext package (now a published O’Reilly book!). You can find the remainder of the code here.

### Updating the dataset

The first step was to find a more up-to-date dataset of Trump’s tweets. The Trump Twitter Archive, by Brendan Brown, is a brilliant project for tracking them, and is easily retrievable from R.

As of today, it contains 31548, including the text, device, and the number of retweets and favourites. (Also impressively, it updates hourly, and since September 2016 it includes tweets that were afterwards deleted).

### Devices over time

My analysis from last summer was useful for journalists interpreting Trump’s tweets since it was able to distinguish Trump’s tweets from those sent by his staff. But it stopped being true in March 2017, when Trump switched to using an iPhone.

Let’s dive into at the history of all the devices used to tweet from the account, since the first tweets in 2009.

A number of different people have clearly tweeted for the \@realDonaldTrump account over time, forming a sort of geological strata. I’d divide it into basically five acts:

• Early days: All of Trump’s tweets until late 2011 came from the Web Client.
• Other platforms: There was then a burst of tweets from TweetDeck and TwitLonger Beta, but these disappeared. Some exploration (shown later) indicate these may have been used by publicists promoting his book, though some (like this one from TweetDeck) clearly either came from him or were dictated.
• Starting the Android: Trump’s first tweet from the Android was in February 2013, and it quickly became his main device.
• Campaign: The iPhone was introduced only when Trump announced his campaign by 2015. It was clearly used by one or more of his staff, because by the end of the campaign it made up a majority of the tweets coming from the account. (There was also an iPad used occasionally, which was lumped with several other platforms into the “Other” category). The iPhone reduced its activity after the election and before the inauguration.
• Trump’s switch to iPhone: Trump’s last Android tweet was on March 25th, 2017, and a few days later Trump’s staff confirmed he’d switched to using an iPhone.

Which devices did Trump use himself, and which did other people use to tweet for him? To answer this, we could consider that Trump almost never uses hashtags, pictures or links in his tweets. Thus, the percentage of tweets containing one of those features is a proxy for how much others are tweeting for him.

This suggests that each of the devices may have a mix (TwitLonger Beta was certainly entirely staff, as was the mix of “Other” platforms during the campaign), but that only Trump ever tweeted from an Android.

### When did Trump start talking about Barack Obama?

Now that we have data going back to 2009, we can take a look at how Trump used to tweet, and when his interest turned political.

In the early days of the account, it was pretty clear that a publicist was writing Trump’s tweets for him. In fact, his first-ever tweet refers to him in the third person:

Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!

The first hundred or so tweets follow a similar pattern (interspersed with a few cases where he tweets for himself and signs it). But this changed alongside his views of the Obama administration. Trump’s first-ever mention of Obama was entirely benign:

Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta received the Medal of Honor from Pres. Obama this month. It was a great honor to have him visit me today.

But his next were a different story. This article shows how Trump’s opinion of the administration turned from praise to criticism at the end of 2010 and in early 2011 when he started spreading a conspiracy theory about Obama’s country of origin. His second and third tweets about the president both came in July 2011, followed by many more.

What changed? Well, it was two months after the infamous 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, where Obama mocked Trump for his conspiracy theories, causing Trump to leave in a rage. Trump has denied that the dinner pushed him towards politics… but there certainly was a reaction at the time.

Between July 2011 and November 2012 (Obama’s re-election), a full 32.3%% of Trump’s tweets mentioned Obama by name (and that’s not counting the ones that mentioned him or the election implicitly, like this). Of course, this is old news, but it’s an interesting insight into what Trump’s Twitter was up to when it didn’t draw as much attention as it does now.

Trump’s opinion of Obama is well known enough that this may be the most redundant sentiment analysis I’ve ever done, but it’s worth noting that this was the time period where Trump’s tweets first turned negative. This requires tokenizing the tweets into words. I do so with the tidytext package created by me and Julia Silge.

(Did I mention you can learn more about using R for sentiment analysis in our new book?)

### Changes in words since the election

My original analysis was on tweets in early 2016, and I’ve often been asked how and if Trump’s tweeting habits have changed since the election. The remainder of the analyses will look only at tweets since Trump launched his campaign (June 16, 2015), and disregards retweets.

We can compare words used before the election to ones used after.

What words were used more before or after the election?

Some of the words used mostly before the election included “Hillary” and “Clinton” (along with “Crooked”), though he does still mention her. He no longer talks about his competitors in the primary, including (and the account no longer has need of the #trump2016 hashtag).

Of course, there’s one word with a far greater shift than others: “fake”, as in “fake news”. Trump started using the term only in January, claiming it after some articles had suggested fake news articles were partly to blame for Trump’s election.

As of early August Trump is using the phrase more than ever, with about 9% of his tweets mentioning it. As we’ll see in a moment, this was a savvy social media move.

### What words lead to retweets?

One of the most common follow-up questions I’ve gotten is what terms tend to lead to Trump’s engagement.

What words tended to lead to unusually many retweets, or unusually few?

Some of Trump’s most retweeted topics include RussiaNorth Korea, the FBI (often about Clinton), and, most notably, “fake news”.

Of course, Trump’s tweets have gotten more engagement over time as well (which partially confounds this analysis: worth looking into more!) His typical number of retweets skyrocketed when he announced his campaign, grew throughout, and peaked around his inauguration (though it’s stayed pretty high since).

Also worth noticing: before the campaign, the only patch where he had a notable increase in retweets was his year of tweeting about Obama. Trump’s foray into politics has had many consequences, but it was certainly an effective social media strategy.

### Conclusion: I wish this hadn’t aged well

Until today, last year’s Trump post was the only blog post that analyzed politics, and (not unrelatedly!) the highest amount of attention any of my posts have received. I got to write up an article for the Washington Post, and was interviewed on Sky NewsCTV, and NPR. People have built great tools and analyses on top of my work, with some of my favorites including didtrumptweetit.com and the Atlantic’s analysis. And I got the chance to engage with, well, different points of view.

The post has certainly had some professional value. But it disappoints me that the analysis is as relevant as it is today. At the time I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame, but I also hoped it would end. (“Hey, remember when that Twitter account seemed important?” “Can you imagine what Trump would tweet about this North Korea thing if we were president?”) But of course, Trump’s Twitter account is more relevant than ever.

I remember when my Android/iPhone analysis came out last year, people asked “Who cares what Trump tweets?”

I don’t love analysing political data; I prefer writing about baseballbiologyR education, and programming languages. But as you might imagine, that’s the least of the reasons I wish this particular chapter of my work had faded into obscurity.

David Robinson is a Data Scientist at Stack Overflow. In May 2015, he received his PhD in Quantitative and Computational Biology from Princeton University, where he worked with Professor John Storey. His interests include statistics, data analysis, genomics, education, and programming in R.

# Variance Explained: Text Mining Trump’s Twitter – Part 1: Trump is Angrier on Android

##### Reposted from Variance Explained with minor modifications. Note this post was written in 2016, a follow-up was posted in 2017.

This weekend I saw a hypothesis about Donald Trump’s twitter account that simply begged to be investigated with data:

Every non-hyperbolic tweet is from iPhone (his staff).

Every hyperbolic tweet is from Android (from him).

When Trump wishes the Olympic team good luck, he’s tweeting from his iPhone. When he’s insulting a rival, he’s usually tweeting from an Android. Is this an artefact showing which tweets are Trump’s own and which are by some handler?

Others have explored Trump’s timeline and noticed this tends to hold up- and Trump himself does indeed tweet from a Samsung Galaxy. But how could we examine it quantitatively? I’ve been writing about text mining and sentiment analysis recently, particularly during my development of the tidytext R package with Julia Silge, and this is a great opportunity to apply it again.

My analysis, shown below, concludes that the Android and iPhone tweets are clearly from different people, posting during different times of day and using hashtags, links, and retweets in distinct ways. What’s more, we can see that the Android tweets are angrier and more negative, while the iPhone tweets tend to be benign announcements and pictures. Overall I’d agree with @tvaziri’s analysis: this lets us tell the difference between the campaign’s tweets (iPhone) and Trump’s own (Android).

### The dataset

First, we’ll retrieve the content of Donald Trump’s timeline using the userTimelinefunction in the twitteR package:1

We clean this data a bit, extracting the source application. (We’re looking only at the iPhone and Android tweets- a much smaller number are from the web client or iPad).

Overall, this includes 628 tweets from iPhone, and 762 tweets from Android.

One consideration is what time of day the tweets occur, which we’d expect to be a “signature” of their user. Here we can certainly spot a difference:

Trump on the Android does a lot more tweeting in the morning, while the campaign posts from the iPhone more in the afternoon and early evening.

Another place we can spot a difference is in Trump’s anachronistic behavior of “manually retweeting” people by copy-pasting their tweets, then surrounding them with quotation marks:

@trumplican2016@realDonaldTrump @DavidWohl stay the course mr trump your message is resonating with the PEOPLE”

Almost all of these quoted tweets are posted from the Android:

In the remaining by-word analyses in this text, I’ll filter these quoted tweets out (since they contain text from followers that may not be representative of Trump’s own tweets).

Somewhere else we can see a difference involves sharing links or pictures in tweets.

It turns out tweets from the iPhone were 38 times as likely to contain either a picture or a link. This also makes sense with our narrative: the iPhone (presumably run by the campaign) tends to write “announcement” tweets about events, like this:

Thank you Windham, New Hampshire!

While Android (Trump himself) tends to write picture-less tweets like:

The media is going crazy. They totally distort so many things on purpose. Crimea, nuclear, “the baby” and so much more. Very dishonest!

### Comparison of words

Now that we’re sure there’s a difference between these two accounts, what can we say about the difference in the content? We’ll use the tidytext package that Julia Silge and I developed.

We start by dividing into individual words using the unnest_tokens function (see this vignette for more), and removing some common “stopwords”2:

What were the most common words in Trump’s tweets overall?

These should look familiar for anyone who has seen the feed. Now let’s consider which words are most common from the Android relative to the iPhone, and vice versa. We’ll use the simple measure of log odds ratio, calculated for each word as:3

log2⁡(# in Android+1Total Android+1# in iPhone+1Total iPhone+1)”>log2(# in Android 1 / Total Android + log2⁡(# in Android+1Total Android+1# in iPhone+1Total iPhone+1)

“>1 / # in iPhone + 1 / Total iPhone 1)

Which are the words most likely to be from Android and most likely from iPhone?

A few observations:

• Most hashtags come from the iPhone. Indeed, almost no tweets from Trump’s Android contained hashtags, with some rare exceptions like this one. (This is true only because we filtered out the quoted “retweets”, as Trump does sometimes quote tweets like this that contain hashtags).
• Words like “join” and “tomorrow”, and times like “7pm”, also came only from the iPhone. The iPhone is clearly responsible for event announcements like this one (“Join me in Houston, Texas tomorrow night at 7pm!”)
• A lot of “emotionally charged” words, like “badly”, “crazy”, “weak”, and “dumb”, were overwhelmingly more common on Android. This supports the original hypothesis that this is the “angrier” or more hyperbolic account.

### Sentiment analysis: Trump’s tweets are much more negative than his campaign’s

Since we’ve observed a difference in sentiment between the Android and iPhone tweets, let’s try quantifying it. We’ll work with the NRC Word-Emotion Association lexicon, available from the tidytext package, which associates words with 10 sentiments: positivenegativeangeranticipationdisgustfearjoysadnesssurprise, and trust.

To measure the sentiment of the Android and iPhone tweets, we can count the number of words in each category:

(For example, we see that 321 of the 4901 words in the Android tweets were associated with “anger”). We then want to measure how much more likely the Android account is to use an emotionally-charged term relative to the iPhone account. Since this is count data, we can use a Poisson test to measure the difference:

And we can visualize it with a 95% confidence interval:

Thus, Trump’s Android account uses about 40-80% more words related to disgustsadnessfearanger, and other “negative” sentiments than the iPhone account does. (The positive emotions weren’t different to a statistically significant extent).

We’re especially interested in which words drove this different in sentiment. Let’s consider the words with the largest changes within each category:

This confirms that lots of words annotated as negative sentiments (with a few exceptions like “crime” and “terrorist”) are more common in Trump’s Android tweets than the campaign’s iPhone tweets.

### Conclusion: the ghost in the political machine

I was fascinated by the recent New Yorker article about Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal. Of particular interest was how Schwartz imitated Trump’s voice and philosophy:

In his journal, Schwartz describes the process of trying to make Trump’s voice palatable in the book. It was kind of “a trick,” he writes, to mimic Trump’s blunt, staccato, no-apologies delivery while making him seem almost boyishly appealing…. Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.”

Like any journalism, data journalism is ultimately about human interest, and there’s one human I’m interested in: who is writing these iPhone tweets?

The majority of the tweets from the iPhone are fairly benign declarations. But consider cases like these, both posted from an iPhone:

Like the worthless @NYDailyNews, looks like @politico will be going out of business. Bad reporting- no money, no cred!

Failing @NYTimes will always take a good story about me and make it bad. Every article is unfair and biased. Very sad!

These tweets certainly sound like the Trump we all know. Maybe our above analysis isn’t complete: maybe Trump has sometimes, however rarely, tweeted from an iPhone (perhaps dictating, or just using it when his own battery ran out). But what if our hypothesis is right, and these weren’t authored by the candidate- just someone trying their best to sound like him?

Or what about tweets like this (also iPhone), which defend Trump’s slogan- but doesn’t really sound like something he’d write?

Our country does not feel ‘great already’ to the millions of wonderful people living in poverty, violence and despair.

A lot has been written about Trump’s mental state. But I’d really rather get inside the head of this anonymous staffer, whose job is to imitate Trump’s unique cadence (“Very sad!”), or to put a positive spin on it, to millions of followers. Are they a true believer, or just a cog in a political machine, mixing whatever mainstream appeal they can into the @realDonaldTrump concoction? Like Tony Schwartz, will they one day regret their involvement?

1. To keep the post concise I don’t show all of the code, especially code that generates figures. But you can find the full code here.
2. We had to use a custom regular expression for Twitter, since typical tokenizers would split the # off of hashtags and @ off of usernames. We also removed links and ampersands (&) from the text.
3. The “plus ones,” called Laplace smoothing are to avoid dividing by zero and to put more trust in common words.

David Robinson is a Data Scientist at Stack Overflow. In May 2015, he received his PhD in Quantitative and Computational Biology from Princeton University, where he worked with Professor John Storey. His interests include statistics, data analysis, genomics, education, and programming in R.

# tidyverse: Example: Trump Approval Rate

For those of you unfamiliar with the tidyverse, it is a collection of R packages that share common philosophies and are designed to work together. Most if not all, are created by R-god Hadley Wickham, one of the leads at RStudio. I was introduced to the tidyverse-packages such as ggplot2 and dplyr in my second R-course, and they have cleaned and sped up my workflow tremendously ever since.

Although I don’t want to mix in the political debate, I came across such a wonderful example of how the tidyverse has simplified coding in R. On the downside, those unfamiliar with the syntax have trouble understanding what happens in the code the author uses.

Running the following R-code will install the core packages of the tidyverse:

install.packages(‘tidyverse’)

These consist among others of the following:

• ggplot2: a more potent way of visualization
• tibble: an upgrade to the standard data.frame
• dplyr: adds great new functionality for manipulating data frames
• tidyr: adds even more new functions for wrangling data frames
• magrittr: adds piping functionality to improve code readability and workflow
• readr: provides easier functions to load in data
• purr: adds new functional programming functionality

There are several other packages included (e.g, stringr), but the above are the ones you are most likely to use in everyday projects.

Now, how about dissecting the code in the post. The author (1) loads some functionality in R,  (2) scrapes data on approval rates from the web, (3) cleans it up, and creates a wonderful visualization. S/He does this all in only 35 lines of code! Better even, 2 of these code lines are blank, 3 are setup, 6 have aesthetic purposes, and many others could be combined being only several characters long. Due to the tidyverse syntax, the code is easy to read, transparent, and reproducible (it only consists of two chained code blocks, after loading the packages), and takes only 7 seconds to run!

   user  system elapsed
5.67    0.85    6.53

In the rest of this article, I walk you through the code of this post to explain what’s happening:

• hrbrthemes includes additional ggplot2 themes (plot colors, etc.)
• rvest includes functionalities for web scraping
• tidyverse we discussed earlier
library(hrbrthemes)
library(rvest)
library(tidyverse)

Below, the author then creates a list containing the links to the online data to scrape and run it through a magrittr pipe (%>%) to apply the next bit of code to it.

map_df() comes from the purrr package and applies the subsequent code to every element in the earlier list:

• Read in the html files specified earlier in the list %>%
• Convert them to a table %>%
• Store the name of the list (this is the name of the president) as .id %>%
• Store that as a data.frame %>%
• Select columns (and rename them) %>%
• Use the earlier stored president id and add it as a column (‘who’) %>%
• Save the output as a dataframe called ratings.
list(
) %>%
map_df(~{
html_table() %>%
.[[1]] %>%
tbl_df() %>%
select(date=Date, approve=Total Approve, disapprove=Total Disapprove)
}, .id="who") -> ratings

Below, the author then starts a new chained code block. S/He first changes (mutate()), from the ratings dataframe, the approval & disapproval data with a custom function (get rid of the % sign and divide by 100), which is then piped through:

• Mutate dates to a data format (lubridate is yet another tidyverse package) %>%
• Filter out any missing values %>%
• Group by the ‘who’-column (President name) %>%
• Sort the data file by earlier specified date %>%
• Give every line an id number, from 1 up to the number of records (n() returns the sample size per President due to the earlier group_by()) %>%
• Ungroup the data %>%

For readability, I split the code here, but it actually still continues as depicted by the %>% at the end.

mutate_at(ratings, c("approve", "disapprove"), function(x) as.numeric(gsub("%", "", x, fixed=TRUE))/100) %>%
mutate(date = lubridate::dmy(date)) %>%
filter(!is.na(approve)) %>%
group_by(who) %>%
arrange(date) %>%
mutate(dnum = 1:n()) %>%
ungroup() %>%

The output is now entered into the ggplot2 visualization function below:

• ggplot() creates a layered plot, where the aes(thetics) (parameters) are defined as
• x = the id number,
• y = the approval rate,
• and the color = the President name

Layers and details to this plot are specified/added using +

• The first (bottom) layer of the plot is geom_hline() which creates a horizontal line at [x = 0; y = 0.5] with a size = 0.5. +
• The 2nd layer is a scatterplot as geom_point() adds points with size = 0.25 on the x & y predefined in ggplot(aes()) +
• Next the limits of the Y-axis are set to run from 0 to 1 +
• A custom/manual color scheme is set +
• Custom titles and labels are applied to the axis +
• A predefined theme for the plot is used, drawn from hrbrthemes-package loading in at the start +
• The direction of the legend is set +
• The position of the legend is set
  ggplot(aes(dnum, approve, color=who)) +
geom_hline(yintercept = 0.5, size=0.5) +
geom_point(size=0.25) +
scale_y_percent(limits=c(0,1)) +
scale_color_manual(name=NULL, values=c("Obama"="#313695", "Trump"="#a50026")) +
labs(x="Day in office", y="Approval Rating",
title="Presidential approval ratings from day 1 in office",
subtitle="For fairness, data was taken solely from Trump's favorite polling site (Ramussen)",
caption="Data Source: \nCode: ") +
theme_ipsum_rc(grid="XY", base_size = 16) +
theme(legend.direction = "horizontal") +
theme(legend.position=c(0.8, 1.05))

Theggplot()command at the start automatically prints the plot when it is finished (when no more + is found). The result is just wonderful, isn’t it? With only 35 lines, 2 chained commands, and 7 seconds runtime.

Found on https://www.r-bloggers.com.