English / Journalism

Weighing the words

Barack Obama word cloud

USA Today’s graphical illustration of the words Barack Obama used most in his convention speech

Now that both the Democrats and Republicans have finished their quadrennial nominating conventions, the presidential race in the United States is in full swing. But as the conventions recede into memory, news organizations are tallying up the words the parties used in a way to crack the code of the differences between them. USA Today posted a graphical representation of the words most used by Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in their acceptance speeches. For both candidates, “America” was the top word, though the graphic shows that Obama used a greater variety of words.

The New York Times posted an interactive feature that graphically represents the words used by all of the speakers at the Republican and Democratic conventions. Given the persistent high unemployment in the U.S. in recent years, it may come as no surprise that both parties used the word “jobs” frequently. For Democrats, it was the top word, along with “women,” “family” and “recovery.” Republicans, on the other hand, had “business,” “government,” “leadership” and “better” as their top words.

What is particularly fun about the Times’ feature, though, is that it allows users to search for their own terms. The Democrats spoke of Afghanistan and Iraq far more than Republicans. The Democrats also mentioned France twice: once in reference to Mitt Romney’s time in France as a missionary, and once in a historical reference made by Massachusetts Sen. Barney Frank. The Republicans, however, didn’t mention France once.

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