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Virginia Votes 2012

Now that the votes are cast, we have some real electoral data to explore. My first question was how the distribution of Obama’s vote in Virginia in 2012 compared to 2008.Using the unofficial results currently reported by Virginia’ State Board of Elections (with 2,573 of 2,588 precincts reporting), I plotted the percent of votes cast […]

Forget Ohio, it’s all about Virginia…and demographics

In my humble opinion, the biggest news coming out of the election last night was not Ohio.  Instead, the polling results coming out of Virginia, that heavily favored Obama early in the evening, set the tone for the entire night.  The story of what happened in Virginia exemplifies where our politics in this country now […]

U.S. residents love a metropolis

The Census Bureau came out with a new special report in September about the patterns of population change in U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas from 2000 to 2010. The report is chock-full of data about the most populated areas of the country, and the authors have turned all of that data into lots of brief […]

How are your tax dollars spent?

Although this interactive calculator was released by the White House in April of this year, I had not seen it until recently. With all of the current politicking and campaigning, it was nice to see something that allowed me to drill down into some details of tax spending– normally presented in a pretty dry and […]

A trend is your friend: the latest unemployment and poverty numbers

In this presidential election year, the public seems particularly focused on the monthly unemployment statistics gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). By now I am sure we all know how it works:If the numbers are bad:The Republicans tout the numbers as proof that Obama is destroying the economy, and Democrats make an attempt to […]

Innovative Data Use and Social Problem Solving

As a data consumer and user, I am constantly amazed at the pure volume of data currently available, as well as the many analytical tools that enable us to better understand this data and the technology that makes it all readily accessible and shareable. Data can be just numbers on a page, buried in a […]

Protein Folding and the Census Challenge

Dustin was the first to tell me the story of how online gamers, in just 3 weeks, decoded an AIDS protein that had stumped scientific researchers for 15 years.  The story is that researchers at the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, in collaboration with the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry, created a […]

…And now the “96 percent”

Yesterday’s post ended with an allusion to the “Hidden Welfare State” and the world of tax expenditures.  Households across all income categories are the beneficiaries of government assistance programs, and the oft-reported 49 percent who receive some type of government benefit is true only in a narrow sense.  So, in the end, how many of us actually […]

“47 percent” and other statistics

Last week’s release of the now infamous Mother Jones video of Romney’s comments  on the “47 percent” of Americans who don’t pay income taxes has everyone talking about the U.S. tax system.  Despite this election cycle’s relative dearth of substantive, detailed policy discourse, the campaigns and the media have indeed provided the public with a […]

Jobs and Gender

I spend a lot of my time working on projects for the Office of Career and Technical Education at the Virginia Department of Education. CTE receives a significant portion of its funding from the federal government, and like all government funds it comes with strings attached. For the last  25 years one of the most […]