What a refreshing change, then, to see some sense by The Guardian when mapping the Australian election. Nick Evershed briefly touches on some problems with 'traditional' election maps then shows his creation...
It's a sort of Dorling cartogram with circles sized proportional to the population in that electoral area and then coloured according to affiliation. The circles are displaced to avoid overlapping but they've added a basemap to at least give some geographical sense to the otherwise abstract representation.
I like Dorling cartograms so I am bound to like this effort. The symbols are clear, efficient and unambiguous. Because of the nature of the population distribution in Australia the map works and the major cities become identifiable (labels would help for people to identify each of the major cities though). In a country that has far more people crammed across more of the actual space the technique wouldn't be as effective.
I'd have preferred a larger variation in symbol size (it's difficult to see any differentiation) and a legend to tell me what amount of people are represented by the symbol sizes but kudos to The Guardian who have not simply reached for the defaults and have sought to illustrate the story with something more nuanced and thought through. They've actually showed something sadly lacking amongst many of today's rapid map-making map-makers...they've done some cartographic research and made effective use of it. Even better, their write-up briefly describes their design process and explains why other maps were discounted before they arrived at this effort.
Form, function and keeping it simple. Simple!