State of the Union Analysis

Posted on Jan 26, 2011 in Blog

This year's State of the Union was about 400 words shorter than last year's State of the Union address. Likely due the changes in Congress, this year's address also had nearly 30 fewer applauses (77 compared to 106 in 2010) and about a third of the laughter (4 compared to 12 in 2010). The word clouds below illustrate some of the key themes of the two speeches. 


 

I also did some text analysis of the speech this year compared to last year which provides some interesting signs of times.

“America” and “Americans” remain dominant, as do “people,” and “work.” In 2011, “change” fell out of favor and disappeared from the top 50 most frequently used words but “believe,” “future,” and “dream” moved in to fill the void.  With Congressional leadership changes comes vocabulary changes as well – “Democrats” were mentioned slightly more frequently this year (10 times compared to 9 last year), but in 2011 “Republicans” also breached the top 50 most frequently used words (9 times compared to 6 in 2010).     

“Deficit” and “cuts” were as prominent in 2011 as they were in 2010 – which doesn’t leave me hopeful for any meaningful cuts or deficit reductions given the cuts we actually saw in 2010. Topping it off, “government” was actually more frequently used this year.  I'm ignoring context, but the concern remains. Spending showed up 12 times this year and didn't break the top 50 last year while “tax” showed up nearly half as often.    

“System” and “support” gave way to “win” and “success. “Health,” and “economy” showed up half as frequent as they did in 2010 and “banks,” “security,” and “energy” fell out of the top 50.    

Awaking to the fact that we are just a segment of this broad universe, “world” was used 18 times in 2011 – making the top 10 most frequently used words – it didn’t even make the top 50 last year. 

And what is going to keep us relevant in a world that is continuing to progress? In 2011, “education” was twice as frequent (11 in 2011 versus 5 in 2010) and “students” broke the top 50. “Technology,” which wasn’t used once in 2010 was used 8 times in 2011 and “innovation” was used three-times as frequently (9 compared to 3 times last year).  “Idea” only showed up twice in 2010, but was used 10 times in 2011 and “research” was used nine times after only being used once in 2010. 

Here is a listing of the top 50 most frequently used words from both speeches:

WordFrequencyYear
year 472010
people 332010
work 302010
jobs 292010
americans 282010
nation 282010
america 242010
help 222010
tax 212010
businesses 182010
invest 182010
families 172010
economy 152010
give 152010
bill 142010
decade 142010
government 142010
values 142010
country 132010
energy 132010
security 132010
took 132010
change 122010
clean 122010
cut 122010
tonight 122010
care 112010
create 112010
financial 112010
health 112010
office 112010
problems 112010
reform 112010
companies 102010
congress 102010
continue 102010
deficit 102010
lives 102010
support 102010
act 92010
banks 92010
democrats 92010
face 92010
increase 92010
million 92010
passed 92010
washington 92010
insurance 82010
market 82010
system 82010
people 332011
jobs 312011
american 312011
america 272011
years 252011
work 232011
business 202011
nation 192011
government 182011
world 182011
tonight 172011
future 152011
country 132011
dream 122011
law 122011
spending 122011
tax 122011
education 112011
best 102011
success 102011
college 102011
congress 102011
cuts 102011
deficit 102011
democrats 102011
give 102011
idea 102011
live 102011
schools 102011
innovation 92011
republicans 92011
research 92011
care 92011
energy 92011
help 92011
race 92011
students 92011
better 82011
invest 82011
technology 82011
believe 82011
child 82011
company 82011
create 82011
generation 82011
win 82011
passed 72011
responsibility 72011
economy 72011

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