Elections are a special meeting of journalism and data. They generate lots of both! So the morning after the long night of vote counting, we got this year’s students working on the results for a full day. Four student groups were each given one of the four UK nations. Each group also got a Welsh constituency to analyse; after consulting with our pol corrs on the MA-News programme we decided the interesting Welsh battles would be in Cardiff North, Ceredigion, Caerphilly and Vale of Glamorgan.
The main difficulty with analysing the results was not having the XML feed from PA that UK news organisations had been relying on (and had been testing for weeks). We didn’t have the raw data flowing in as soon as a count was announced. But that’s where the BBC came in — they published results for each constituency in a standardised url, supplying 650 webpages for the UK’s 650 constituencies.
This meant that it was enough to draw up a few lines to grab each page and the corresponding batch of results. If only all large-scale scraping was as clean and consistent!
We were able to publish csv files with full results for the four nations by the end of the day. Now of course you can get them from lots of sources but right after the election, and with results still being declared throughout Friday, we were able to get started on analysing the results once we had these tables.
The people at Flourish provided very helpful templates ahead of the vote. So hex maps, animated bar charts and Sankey diagrams were all ready and waiting for numbers.