It’s All About the Keywords: Comparing Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speeches

By | September 19, 2012

What makes for a successful political campaign speech? Is it the tone of the delivery? The turns of phrase? How about the repetition of certain keywords?

President Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at his party’s convention on September 6, 2012. Below is a visualization of Obama’s acceptance speech in North Carolina, as prepared for delivery. The words Obama used the most: New, America, Jobs, Hope, Pay, Future and Believe. He did not mention his competitor.

Obama’s DNC Acceptance Speech. Visualization created with Wordle


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accepted the Republican party’s presidential nomination on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. A visualization of Romney’s speech during the Republican National Convention can be seen below. Romney’s most common words: America, American(s), better, world, president, job(s), new, business and mom. He frequently criticized his competition by name.

Romney’s RNC acceptance speech. Visualization created with


When creating these visualizations,  I deliberately swapped the typical colors for the political parties. Since the 2000 election cycle, the news media has labeled Democratic states as blue, while red states are considered Republican. Swing states are usually purple or yellow. My online journalism students at the University of Connecticut were asked to consider whether the colors in the graphics have an effect on the delivery or understanding of the information.

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