The Monarchist of LSU

One hears about liberal bias in education on a regular basis – but is it true? Just how liberal *is* LSU?

ImageNot very, as it turns out.

After running every name from the Reveille’s database of faculty and staff to retrieve their political party affiliations, I found that the LSU faculty is actually about 10 percentage points less Democrat-leaning than the surrounding Parish. The data says that LSU is no hotbed of liberalism – and it also showed we had a Monarchist. That one came as a surprise.

Working with Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez, my favorite reporter at the Reveille, we put together a great package showcasing the results and the implications of those results. Fern even knew the Monarchist – Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope – and got him to open up about his party affiliation.

http://www.lsureveille.com/news/politics/faculty-senate-president-opens-up-about-political-affiliation/article_216dc6b8-ad73-11e3-ad3d-001a4bcf6878.html

The data was a blast, and it showed all sorts of fascinating things. The most liberal department on campus, unsurprisingly, was Music & Dramatic Arts, where 71.79 percent of the faculty & staff are registered Democrats (of those I was able to retrieve party affiliation for). The least liberal department, was UC Advising & Counseling, where 20 percent of the staff are Democrats, and 46.67 percent are Republicans.

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To me, this is the perfect example of how data journalism should be done. We took a dataset we owned – the salary database for the university – and leveraged it into a brand new story, and a brand new insight, simply by running it through a new source of information. Data is all about recombinant information – the mutational evolution of your understanding of the world.

Plus, we found a Monarchist. I don’t think that’s ever going to get old.

Now, I just need to find a new, fun data project to feed Fern – I’m sure she’s disappointed I haven’t kicked anything good her way in quite some time.

One final addendum – after publishing, a friend of a friend asked about what would happen if we had zeroed in on the faculty alone – rather than faculty & staff together. I can’t do that breakdown perfectly, but I can approach it, and when I do it shifts the numbers by a bit less than 3% toward Democrat affiliation. The new numbers, if I’m trying to just grab them for faculty without staff, run 40.77% Democrat, 25.47% Republican, and 33.03% Independent. Don’t let the apparent precision of those percentages fool you — they’re my best attempt at faculty isolation, but they’re not perfect. Even these isolated numbers, however, fail to achieve a strong liberal bias. If you want strong bias, your best bet remains looking at different departments. Music & Dramatic arts, I’m looking at  you.

Special thanks to professor Rosanne Scholl for pointing out that whatever my personal feelings on the matter, the major political parties remain proper nouns and deserving of capitalization. Thanks as well go out to Barbara Clark, who asked the question I failed to consider: How do the numbers change if you look at faculty separate from staff?

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California vs. The World

The Reveille put up our latest update on the Associated Press college football rankings ( http://bit.ly/1cFcYIq ), and beyond showing that one voter pegged the Tigers as the 20th-best team in the country on his ballot this week, I found some interesting results in the pollster sentiment maps for Stanford, Ohio State and Baylor. The sentiment map is simple — it averages the ballot ranks for pollsters in a given state, then compares the states to one another to see where pollsters live who love a team, and where the ones live who hate a team.

This week, the most interesting thing I found in the weekly sentiment maps is the impression they can give of a California championing Stanford against a nation more keen on Ohio State or Baylor.Image

After checking out Stanford and their west coast support, compare that to the map for Ohio State:

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Or you could look at Baylor, which is quite similar (at least at first glance) to the map of sentiment generated for Ohio State:

Now, sentiment maps like this aren’t proof of regional bias… But if regional bias *does* exist, we would certainly expect to see it in the map. More updates as the season continues!Image

Poverty in Asia

GEOG1003I created several visualizations of gross national income (relative affluence of nations), shown by a “temperature” color scheme which runs from a cold aquamarine up to a hot brick red.

http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/GNIandHDI/GEOG1003?:embed=y&:display_count=no#1

The visualization also covers human development index, with human silhouettes. The size of the sillhouette indicates relative HDI for each country.

 

And, here’s a link to a global version of the map:

 

http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/GNIandHDI/GlobalGNIHDIMap?:embed=y&:display_count=no

I’m sure similar visualizations have been done before, but I believe this is a very effective way to present this particular data.

 

Enjoy!

Missing LSU Employee Addresses

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I love when a data project yields side information. In this case, while searching the LSU directory for employee contact information, I found that lower-salary employees were *much* more likely to be missing from the LSU online directory. Numbers are fun.

http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/manualmap2test/MissingAddressSimpleDash?:embed=y&:display_count=no