Analyzing Two Rick Perry Speeches: 1998 vs. 2011

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I stumbled upon Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement speech from his 1998 race for lieutenant governor, arguably my former state’s most powerful political job. Back then, his candidacy centered on “safe streets, effective schools, and economic opportunity.”

Here are the top 50 most used words in the speech (made in Aggie Maroon for Perry’s alma mater). Texas, obviously, is used often, and so are effective, opportunity, future: 

This next example below visualizes Perry’s announcement last month that he was entering the presidential race. The national economy is among the top issues in the race, so it’s no surprise that America/Americans and jobs are used often: 

Both speeches are relatively heavy on the word “government,” but with a somewhat different emphasis. In 1998, Perry believe that “government” can and should be “effective” and “efficient,” according to this word tree, a Many Eyes tool that puts specific words in context by connecting them with nearby sentence strings. He also talked about regulations that “interfere” with “consumers and producers.”

Last month, Perry said “government” has “prolonged our national misery” and is “spreading the wealth,” according to the text of his presidential announcement. He said government had an “insatiable desire to spend our children’s inheritances.”

Of course, 12 years have passed. 

Lastly, one thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that Perry tends to use the word “get” frequently in his speeches. I’m not sure why. Here’s the presidential announcement speech. Notice that “get America working,” part of his campaign slogan, is used several times: 

Colbert and the Clouds

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Stephen Colbert this week used word clouds — visual representations of word frequencies in selected blocks of text — to tell a story about his political action committee.

Colbert recently asked supporters to submit suggestions for the PAC’s mission, and he wanted to visualize their responses for his television audience.

This version shows the most popular words in all the responses: 

Then, Colbert (or presumably someone on his staff) weighted the cases to represent only responses by donors who gave at least $1. 

The second version represents the responses Colbert “heard,” I suppose making a point about the fact that corporate spending is now considered political speech.

Genius. Here’s the full sketch

Five Years of Facebook Posts

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I joined Facebook nearly five years ago, and I’ve since posted more than 1,700 items to my wall, a figure I obtained by downloading my profile history. I wondered what all these status messages, news stories, cat pictures, videos and other musings would look like in a word cloud (excluding common Facebook phrases, dates, my name and the text string “happy birthday”). 

Here’s the final result, with larger words representing more use:


State of the Union

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Yes. The State of the Union address, which is like the Oscars or Super Bowl for politics nerds like me, is tonight. Here’s a look back at President Obama’s speech last year: 

And the Republican response from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Interesting. Both men used “Americans” quite often. Obama stressed “people,” while McDonnell focused on “government”. The latter also likes the word “must,” as does Texas Gov. Rick Perry.