Posts Tagged 'biden'

Getting election winning right

In the previous post I reviewed our model for how to win a U.S presidential election:

  1. Use high levels of positive language;
  2. Avoid negative language completely;
  3. Stay away from policy;
  4. Don’t mention your opponent.

Joe Biden’s speech at Gettysburg was a textbook example of how to do this (and it’s no easy feat avoiding mentioning your opponent when it’s Trump).

He should have stopped after the first five minutes (HT Bob Newhart “On the backs of envelopes, Abe”, also Lincoln himself, 271 words).

After the first five minutes it got rambling and repetitive. The media hates speeches that fit our model, and so the only sound bites came from the second half, which was much less well-written.

How to win a US presidential election — reminder

As the US presidential election ramps up, let me remind you of our conclusions about the language patterns used by winners. Since 1992, the winner is the candidate who:

  1. uses high levels of positive language;
  2. avoids all negative language;
  3. stays away from policy and talks in generalities
  4. doesn’t talk about the opposing candidate

The reason this works is that the choices made by voters are not driven by rational choice but by a more immediate appeal of the candidate as a person. The media doesn’t believe in these rules, and constantly tries to drive candidates to do the opposite. For first time candidates this pressure often works, which is partly why incumbents tend to do well in presidential elections.

But wait, you say. How did Trump win last time? The answer is that, although he doesn’t do well on 2 and 4, Hillary Clinton did very poorly on all four. So it wasn’t that Trump won, so much as that Hillary Clinton lost.

Based on this model, and its historical sucess, Biden is doing pretty much exactly what he needs to do.

Comparing the Democratic and Republican convention spin

Just to round out the picture, here’s data comparing the levels of spin across the speeches from both conventions.

Spin levels in both conventions

Spin levels in both conventions

As usual, high spin is indicated by the red end of the line. Here are the spin scores for all of the speeches analyzed (positive numbers are high spin):

1. Bush 0.40
2. Thompson 1.71
3. Lieberman -0.73
4. Romney 4.36
5. Huckabee -1.8
6. Giuliani 2.97
7. Palin -0.62
8. McCain -7.38
9. M. Obama -1.24
10. Hillary Clinton 2.43
11. Bill Clinton 0.99
12. Biden -1.35
13. Obama 0.31

The relative positions don’t change much when compared to the other party. Within each party, there’s the same division into high- and low-spin speakers. McCain’s overall spin is still so low that it makes all of the other politicians look as if they are clustered quite close together, but there are actually quite large differences between them.

Note the cluster of Bush, Palin, Bill Clinton, and Biden who have very similar speech patterns. Perhaps this is the sign of a successful politician?