2012 US Election, Republicans plus President Obama

Yesterday I posted details about the levels of persona deception in the speeches by the Republican candidates since the beginning of 2012. In striking contrast to the 2008 cycle, the speeches fall along a single axis, indicating widespread commonalities in the way that they use words, particularly the words of the deception model.

Today I’ve included President Obama’s speeches this year in the mix. I’ve tried to select only those speeches where there was an audience. Of course, for a sitting president, the distinction between an ordinary speech and a campaign speech is difficult to draw. Almost all of these are labelled as campaign events at whitehouse.gov.

Here is the plots of the persona deception levels, with Obama’s speeches added in magenta.

Generally speaking, Obama’s levels of persona deception (see yesterday’s post to be clear on what this means) are in the low range compared to the Republican presidential candidates. This is quite different from what happened in the 2008 cycle, where his levels were almost always well above those of McCain and Clinton. It’s not altogether surprising, though. First, he can no longer be the mirror in which voters see what they want to see since he has a substantial and visible track record. Second, he doesn’t have to try as hard to project a persona (at least at this stage of the campaign) since he has no competitor. I expect that his values will climb as the campaign progresses, particularly after the Republican nominee becomes an actual person and not a potential one.

The interesting point is the outlier at the top left of the figure. This is Obama’s speech to AIPAC. Clearly this is not really a campaign speech, so the language might be expected to be different. On the other hand, if it were projected onto the single-factor line formed by the other speeches, it would be much more towards the deceptive end of that axis. Since the underlying model detects all kinds of deception, not just that associated with persona deception in campaigns, this may be revealing of the attitude of the administration to the content expressed in this speech.

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