DATA: How Did Obama’s Inaugural Message Change in 2013?

by Robert Madison on January 23, 2013

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What can text analysis tell us about the message of a speech or marketing campaign? Looking at the words that President Obama used in his 2013 inaugural address on Monday, one of the themes jump out at you right away.

Yesterday, we posted a chart containing the Top 20 most-used words in Obama’s address, and the percentage of their frequency. Words like “People,” “citizens,” “together,” and “equal” seem to suggest that unity was his number-one message. These words were ranked #1, #3, and tied for #4, in terms of actual mentions. This was a different focus from Obama’s speech four years ago, which seemed to be focused on the hope and change slant that he professed so effectively in his 2008 Presidential campaign.

Biggest Change in Obama’s Language

That gave me the idea to do some text analysis on theĀ 2009 inaugural address and compare the two speeches. It turns out that “together,” “citizens,” and “equal” had the Top 3 biggest change in mentions! “Together” had six more mentions than 2009, while “citizens” and “equal” were used five more times in the 2013 inaugural address than the 2009 inaugural address. See the chart below, which ranks the words by the biggest change. Was the President focused on unity and equality more this year than in 2009? You betcha.

Words 2009 2013 Change
together 1 7 6
citizens 1 6 5
equal 1 6 5
people 7 11 4
time 6 10 4
american 2 6 4
country 2 6 4
freedom 3 6 3
journey 3 6 3
liberty 2 5 3
god 3 5 2
government 3 4 1
americans 3 4 1
future 3 4 1
oath 3 4 1
words 4 4 0
generation 5 4 -1
america 8 6 -2
common 6 3 -3
world 6 3 -3


Businesses can use text mining as a way to improve marketing messages. Besides analyzing your own website and marketing copy, you can look at your competitorsā€™ copy. With web and social media monitoring from Spiral16, you can analyze a word cloud of the most-used positive and negative themes from comments about brands, products, issues, or industries — virtually any topic available on the public web.

This last chart is ranked according to the words that were used most often in Obama’s 2013 address. What other observations can you make about Obama’s message based on this data?

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