Weak Tea Indeed

Boston Review published an article entitled Weak Tea by two Harvard professors, Stephen Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder, Jr, in which they assess the impact of the Tea Party movement on the 2010 elections. Regardless of whether you agree with their assessment, the graph they include in their report is horrible.

This is a great example of a duck, Edward Tufte's moniker for a graphic whose overall design purveys graphical style rather than quantitative information. The aged paper border, the flagged elephant in the background, and the horrible choice of elephants and the letter "T" for the data points lower the data-ink ratio considerably. Most of the ink in this graphic could be removed with no loss of data-information. Weak tea indeed.