15 October 2008

John McCain vs. Barack Obama vs. Bob Schieffer

The third and last US presidential debate took place tonight at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. I started by following the same methodology as with the first and second debates and the vice presidential debate, amended regarding Wordle by my 10-5-08 post. So let's start with the bubble graph displaying length of words, sentences as well as number of words:

As usual, the moderator (Schieffer) spoke far less. Obama tended to use longer sentences. I did an extra analysis again, this time focusing on speaking turns and the number of words and sentences per turn:

McCain had the most speaking turns, followed closely by Schieffer. Obama clearly had the least. However, Obama used a lot more words per turn than McCain. Schieffer came in dead last as a moderator should. It seems to me that this pattern was the result of McCain interrupting Obama a lot and Schieffer attempting to stop this. In other words, McCain was more aggressive, pushy.

Next, the by now traditional word clouds.

John McCain

Barack Obama

Bob Schieffer

OK, now what did it all mean? McCain was talking most about Obama—hey, he did call him "Sen." at least—followed by America, and the trio of need, going and now. He did not once use his opponent's first name, Barack: he didn't want to portray him too much as a human being, I suppose? Obama on the other hand used John 8 times, often by itself. Otherwise, his biggest words were going and think. People, now and make came next. Only then do we get down to McCain, health and want. Obama was talking more to the voters, explaining policy. Finally, Schieffer used, of course, Sen. the most but it was more accompanied by McCain than Obama. This reinforced our impression that he was trying to reign McCain in a bit. One more funny thing: Schieffer's catch phrase is "all right": he used it 17 times hence the prominence of right in his word cloud (all is a common word that is filtered out by Wordle).

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