September 5, 2008, 10:16 am
Political Word Clouds
By Henry Woodbury
Both The New York Times and the Belmont Club blog have a feature today on the frequency of certain words in recent political speeches in the U.S. presidential race. Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club compares Sarah Palin’s Republican Convention speech to John McCain’s while the Times compares Democrats to Republicans with an additional breakdown of key words by politician.
The word count analysis reveals a few surprises, such as the fact that the Democrats were more likely to mention their opponent’s name than the Republicans. But word count analysis lacks context. If an opponent’s name is not mentioned, it may be because the opponent is better known, or referenced in other ways. It is, perhaps, the combination of words that matters, as indicators of key themes and rhetorical style.