PolicyMap Named Data Wizards/Ninjas/Unicorns/Whatevs by Wonkblog!

It was a Friday afternoon like any other, until #NameThatData came along. Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Posts’s Wonkblog posted a map of the United States with data, without saying what the data was. The contest was to see who could correctly name the data on the map.

Spoiler alert: We won.

When we saw the contest, we sprung into action. How could we not?

We started with some quick guesses. The dense arc through the south suggested African American population. But then what’s going on in New England? Could be obesity. But then Colorado should look better. Interestingly, our initially guesses mirror the same guesses hashed out at Ingraham’s follow-up post with the answer.

Then Morgan spoke. “Maybe it’s unmarried population.” Of course. The high rates in the south. The high rates in urban areas. The high rates in northern Alaska.

We took a look at PolicyMap, which has a somewhat inverse indicator: Percent of all families that are married with children. It looked a little like the opposite of the NameThatData map:

So it was off to the Census FactFinder. A word about the Census: We love the Census. The Census is wonderful. But the advanced search tool for the Census FactFinder takes time to master. Using it makes us appreciate PolicyMap. But it was our only tool for the task at hand, and so we furiously raced to confirm our guess.

We found Marital Status (table S1201, of course). We looked up a random county (St. Lawrence, NY). The NameThatData map had a value of 35.8% in St. Lawrence. Here was the big moment. We pulled up table S1201 and St. Lawrence County in the FactFinder. And there was 35.8%: Percent never married. We checked a few more counties. Toelle, UT: 24.5%. Check! San Bernardino, CA: 35.2%. Check! The data matched up. We tweeted our answer, and left for the weekend, still hyped up on adrenaline.

Was it worth it? Today, Christopher Ingraham declared us Data Wizards/Ninjas/Unicorns/Whatevs. It was worth it. Shout-out to Deweena Rainbow Unicorn Ninja(whoever you are) who had the answer a little before us, albeit without our level of precision. See you again on Friday, NameThatData!



(Unicorn credit Jess4921)