Visualizing Election Results: Geography vs. Population

The BBC News website presented two different visualizations of yesterday’s UK elections.

The first is strictly geographical, with the land area of each constituency accurately represented on the map:

Screen shot from BBC news showing geographic representation of results

By flipping a switched at the bottom of the map you can see the same results rendered as a “cartogram,” which presents each constituency as the same geographic size, located in roughly the relative area of the country, but not geographically accurate:

UK election results from the BBC presented as a cartogram

The Guardian presented a similar treatment, with each constituency the same size, but presented in a more malleable, and thus more familiar form:

The Guardian visualization of the UK election results as a cartogram

Because of differences in population density, the two approaches tell very different stories.

The Electoral Cartogram of Canada website presents a similar treatment for the 2019 Federal Election here in Canada; in this case, because of higher MP-to-population ratio in places like PEI, the Island has an outsized appearance.