VIII.4 Left vs. Right Political Spectrum

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David McCandless

Stefanie Posavec

What kind of family life and upbringing would you prefer? What beliefs do you have and what kind of government would best represent those beliefs? Independent visual and data journalist David McCandless and graphic designer Stefanie Posavec designed this concept map exploring the left–right political spectrum. The map depicts “otherness” to draw out the battle lines between a liberal democratic government (left) and a conservative republican government (right). The intention was to make a political diagram that would catch the eye of people who wouldn't normally be interested in politics and encourage them to delve deeper into the differences between the two main sides of the political spectrum. Much detail and complexity is lost when attempting to capture modern politics in two dimensions. Yet, much can be gained by comparing and contrasting different stances on society and culture, family environment, adulthood, and beliefs. Note that for the US and Switzerland, left-wing Democrats would be given in blue and right-wing Republicans in red. This and other visualizations that help us understand the world can be found in The Visual Miscellaneum.


McCandless, David, and Stefanie Posavec. 2009. Left vs. Right Political Spectrum. Courtesy of Information is Beautiful. “8th Iteration (2012): Science Maps for Kids,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper.

McCandless, David. 2009. The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia. New York: Harper Collins.

McCandless, David. 2012. Information is Beautiful (blog). Last modified July 13.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.