Yes, it’s time for another Professor Sacerdote paper! This one’s cool (and sure to be relevant in the upcoming months.)
This paper basically uses a linguistic analysis (a tendency to use certain words) to draw parallels between the candidates in the 2008 election and other famous speakers. They used mentioning the opposition by name as a measure of negativity in campaign speeches, and they used a tendency to use certain words (e.g. “hope” and “change”) to compare speakers like Barack Obama and John McCain to famous speakers of the past, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ronald Reagan.
The paper found that Mitt Romney was 4.7 times more negative than Barack Obama, and that John Edwards was 3.7 times more negative than Barack Obama. They also found that Republican candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney were oratorically very similar to Ronald Reagan, and that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee were very similar to Martin Luther King, Jr. They also found that Hillary and Bill Clinton boasted extremely similar oratorical styles.
This paper is interesting to me because it continues along the interdisciplinary path I’ve been fascinated by for a while – pulling from the fields of linguistics, psychology, and history to draw some cool conclusions about the 2008 election and how campaign speeches may have played a role.