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Ctrl + ← Taxi Drivers’ Names, Sick Leave And A Female President

This is Ctrl + ←, our weekly data journalism roundup. You’ll find the most-read FiveThirtyEight articles of the past week, as well as gems we spotted elsewhere on the Internet.


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The decisive states: Writing about the number of “swing states” (i.e. those where no single party has 55 percent or more of the vote), Randal S. Olson, a computer science research assistant, makes two basic points. First, Olson says the number of swing states has declined over the past 20 years — from 32 in 1992 to just 14 in 2012. Second, the Michigan State University researcher says presidential candidates are well aware of which states count: Looking at a map of campaign trails and a map of swing states, Olson notes a “near-perfect overlap.”


The percentage of terrorist attacks committed by Muslims: Statistics from the European Parliament show that most terrorist attacks in the European Union are ethno-nationalist or separatist in nature — less than 2 percent of them are religiously motivated. Using those figures as a starting point, Dean Obeidallah argues in his article on The Daily Beast that media bias prevents other religions from being used as adjectives in front of the word “terrorist.”


Paid sick leave: As residents of the only wealthy country that doesn’t assure employees a legal minimum amount of paid sick leave, vacation leave or parental leave, Americans might be interested in President Obama’s latest proposal. If passed, the legislation would give U.S. workers seven days of paid sick leave per year; but who exactly would benefit from the policy? Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog shows that construction and farming workers — 38 percent of whom currently have access to paid sick leave — would really feel the change. And Ingraham points out that paid sick leave isn’t just a labor rights issue, it’s a public health issue. An estimated 1,500 deaths occurred during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic because sick workers didn’t stay at home.

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A female president in your lifetime: As part of its broader research into women and leadership, the Pew Research Center asked Americans, “Do you personally hope the United States will elect a female president in your lifetime, or does that not matter to you?” Overall, 38 percent of adults surveyed said they hope the U.S. will elect a female president in their lifetime, but the results vary significantly by gender and party affiliation. Sixty-nine percent of Democratic women say they hope to see a female president compared to 46 percent of Democratic men, 20 percent of Republican women and 16 percent of Republican men.

New York taxi drivers: There’s lots of information (such as details on rat sightings and noise pollution) in New York City’s open database that’s just waiting to be explored. Here, Seth Kadish looks at the names of the city’s 52,131 active medallion taxi drivers and visualized the frequency of certain first and last name combinations. The five most common first names in the database are Md, Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad and Mohamed.

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Mona Chalabi is data editor at the Guardian US, and a columnist at New York Magazine. She was previously a lead news writer for FiveThirtyEight.