Analyzing Rhetoric

A Dartmouth student and professor duo have studied the texts of hundreds of speeches by presidential hopefuls. Based on their conclusions they were able to compare each candidate to past presidents as well as determine who is the most negative. Some of the conclusions strike me as a bit iffy, but an interesting study nonetheless.

Zidar and Sacerdote also counted the number of times a candidate refers to another candidate by name to learn who was the most negative. Obama and Clinton are the least negative. Edwards is nearly four times more negative than Obama, and Romney is nearly five times more negative than Obama. (The authors admit that not all mentions of an opponent are necessarily negative, but after some spot checking, they discovered that most are.)

“Our analysis only provides a little bit of insight into the candidates,” says Sacerdote. “But I think it’s an interesting examination of the rhetoric.”

Download their paper here.