The 5+ maps that explain the State of the Union


The State of the Union through powerful maps! From economy to healthcare, environment, and equal opportunity, visualizing key topics with insightful maps.

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The 5+ maps that explain the State of the Union

On Tuesday evening  President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union Address. This year marks the first year that the State of the Union address was made available as full text for perusal and commentary prior to the speech. In the spirit of this openness  we've paired a few pull quotes with some awesome maps from our community. This will kickstart a series of blogs wherein we'll feature 5+ community maps based on a concept or theme.

Skim the speech text here  and follow along below to check out the State of the Union as measured in maps!


The topic of economy is so broad and important that it takes a major role in almost every political speech. In Obama's final SOTU  he covered it from many angles  indicating that it is clearly a topic he knows we are all watching and thinking about carefully. As a major driver and indicator of the economy  the topic of employment came up again and again. In an interesting series of maps  the Wall Street Journal showed us how U.S. job opportunity has been changing over time. Take a look at this example  showing the change from 2013-2014.

Another map we found interesting is the one below  created by the International Business Times last September. The map shows the at-the-time ongoing protests by fast-food workers around the country  aimed at raising the hourly wage.


Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.

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There is no question healthcare has been a focal point of Obama's presidency. In a story published in November  the Wall Street Journal highlighted what America was talking about during the interim election. In the map below  the WSJ focused on healthcare  a topic highlighted during the election by many Republican candidates. If you are interested in maps showing the intended impact of Obamacare  also take a look at this series of maps from the IBTimes in 2013  Obamacare: How Effective Will It Be In Each State?


And in the past year alone  about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

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Throughout his discourse on education  Obama detailed the need for more and easier access to higher education  stating  "[b]y the end of this decade  two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three." We thought the contrast between the two maps below was relevant. In the first  the IBTimes published a map of High School Rankings around the country. In the second map  published by one of our users  we can see the concentrations of the country's top ten public and private universities…


Obama took a moment to highlight his administration's commitment to the environment and the fact that they have "set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history". This is very relevant to the work of the Global Forest Watch  which aims to make the data around deforestation available for journalists  policy makers  scientists and others. While not always perfect  protected areas are a great step to protecting our forests.

Global Forest Watch Map

Learn more about public land use and deforestation globally here.


That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.

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Equal Opportunity

Same-sex marriage is just one component of the equal opportunity struggle. Al Jazeera America created the map below in the process of tracking the status of same-sex marriage across the country.


I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country  a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

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Women's right to choose

The President approached the topic of womens' right to choose gingerly  saying  "We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose  but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows  and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs." This is a topic some of our users addressed thoroughly. Take a look at this complete interactive piece developed for the 40th Aniversary of Roe V Wade.

Learn a bit more about that map in this feature on its authors.

BONUS: Campaign Zinger

I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America.

~ President Obama  January 20th  2015

And in case you missed it  check out the reaction to this quote:

Finally  we'd be remiss if we didn't include Twitter's map of the SOTU reaction  available on Vox

Read more

If you want to read more about State of the Union  check out the ABC News coverage or the Atlantic's Split in the State of the Union piece. Here's some interesting history  datasets  and data science related to the SOTU addresses over the years.

Stay tuned for a map review of the address this week  and look out for our upcoming series  Roughly 5 maps to explain [XYZ]. Thanks for reading!

Happy mapping!