US Politics: The Economics of Bush and Obama

Tableau is holding an Interactive Political Viz contest and I'm pretty sure they've forgotten about us Canadians again.  I've been playing with this viz for a while, not for the contest, but out of an interest in the economic crisis and politics.  I don't watch reality tv, but I'm addicted to American politics.  And let's not kid ourselves, American policies affect the world.

My focus with this viz was not so much about learning new tricks with Tableau as with telling the story.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive.


  1. Why does the S&P only start in 2008??

  2. Hi Jason - Good question. I pulled these pieces of data at different times and during my hunt S&P changed their data site, forwarding to spindices.com. Cool site, but I couldn't find the historical data set for the S&P 500. If anyone finds it, please let me know and I'll update the data set. Thanks.

  3. Is this intended to make Obama look good? I mean household income is down 8.2% during his watch, unemployment is still high, far higher than he predicted, less people are employed than when he was elected, etc. etc. How about a more balanced view?

    1. I really like the design and storytelling aspect of the viz (Great job Kelly).

      Another iteration to include household income, unemployment and national deficit would round out the picture.

      This viz has done it's job, for me at least, and made me curious to look deeper at a few things to inform my opinion (eg how much is the total bill/price of both wars? What portion of the National Debt does that represent?)

      Keep up the beautiful creation! Will you be at Tableau Customer Conference in San Diego?

    2. Thanks so much Greg. Yes, I'll be at the conference - I went last year and it was inspiring!

      You know, these results left me with a few questions as well. I know that trickle down economics is a myth, so I'm actually not surprised that there hasn't been a renewal of employment even with the S&P back up and corporations having come out of the crash seemingly unscathed. For people, it's almost as if the Bush years didn't happen, all of the gains during those 8 years were wiped out in a few months.

      Unfortunately I think that the debt is only going to get taken care of by raising taxes - austerity measures haven't worked at all in Europe and cutting government means cutting middle-class jobs and that means fewer consumers, less economic growth, corporations moving more jobs overseas for cheaper labour, and on, and on, and on.

      I'm no conspiracy theorist, but if you look on the Timeline tab, you'll see that BNP dumped a bunch of their sub-prime holdings in August 07. What did they know that no one else did? And why did gas prices drop like crazy? The explanations I've read are that there was an abundance in reserve, not price manipulation. But the timing is pretty coincidental.

  4. Really interesting and cool presentation! :)

  5. I'm not an Obama fan and although I did vote for him in 2008, consider who he was running against, I wasn't going to vote for him again. This article may have changed my mind though. I think the graphs show that this horse-manure we've all been mired in, is clearly on the Bush administration.

    -Two war's neither funded, budgeted, or paid for.
    -Medicare Prescription program implemented but not funded, budgeted, or paid for.
    -Tax cuts intended to stimulate the economy, but as we all know, trickle-down never trickles down to where they say it will.
    -Wall Street deregulation, financial industry with no oversight. GREED!

    Face it, Bush, Carl Rove, the GOP and their never compromise rhetoric WAS/HAS BEEN/IS horrible for our country. If the best the GOP can do is make Gordon Gekko Romney their standard bearer then they should apologize to Lincoln, drop an A-bomb on themselves and start over. The GOP is beyond ridiculous.

    Donkey's are not the enemy, neither are the elephants like most party politicians are trying to make us think and believe. Until "We The People" change things, we get what we get and deserve.

    1. Why do you think it is OK for the S&P to recover to pre-recession levels and for housing to be stuck at pre-Bush levels? Also, foreclosures are way higher under Obama than under Bush. How is that Bush's fault? Employment is down under Obama - is that good? or is that somehow Bush's fault too?

  6. Cool viz - and very interesting if the data can be believed. So, what were the data sources?

  7. Sorry Maryjom, forgot to publish all the tabs. The sources are on the last dash.

  8. Awesome, awesome viz!! I love this, so many good things about it: 1) top-line KPI metrics tell the "big picture" 2) selection of a KPI bubble changes the line and bar charts below 3) AND changes the annotation, which guides the user to a particular interpretation / storyline 4) clean & simple color choices make the viz very easy on the eyes 5) data sources tab allow the user to obtain the raw data if they so choose.

    Unbelievable job.

    Thanks for sharing,

  9. Thanks Ben. Kind words. I'm looking forward to seeing what amazing viz you come up in the Iron Viz contest. I'll be rootin' for ya!

  10. Hi Kelly

    Really interesting dashboard indeed! Even if I really enjoyed analyzing the data, I must confess that what is really catching my eyes is the dashboard itself. I'm pretty new with Tableau; it's a really great tool for graphs, but I'm not able to master it like you do and change the presentation. How did you create those balloons? Is there a way for me to download the source, or maybe you can point me to some good web resources on the subject?


  11. Hi Sam,
    The balloons are are shapes. You can add extra shapes by saving images in your Shapes folder. The folder is located on your C:/Documents/My Tableau Repository/Shapes. I think I got these shapes from my Snagit Stamps, but you could also make a drawing (even in paint), save it as a .png in the shapes folder and it will be available on the shapes shelf when you open Tableau.
    You can download this workbook - lower right hand corner of the workbook - and take it out of presentation mode. Then you can use this workbook to create your own vizes or export the data. The information for the source data is located on the last dashboard tab.
    Have fun! Thanks,