‘Word clouds’ show debate priorities of Obama, Romney, Lehrer

David Martosko Executive Editor
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A significant majority of debate watchers Wednesday night agree that Republican Mitt Romney upstaged President Barack Obama in their first head-to-head clash, and the two men’s words — together with those of moderator Jim Lehrer — tell the story.

These “word clouds,” courtesy of Wordle.net, show the relative frequency of various words as they appeared in the published transcripts from the debate, as published by the Commission on Presidential Debates. (RELATED: “Word cloud” shows priorities of Obama convention speech)

If Romney managed to rattle Obama, it might be reflected in the president’s language choices: He said “governor” more often than any other word, and “Romney” came in third place, behind the word “make.” Neither “hope” nor “change” made a showing at all.

Romney’s most-used words included “people,” “tax,” “Medicare” and the words “get” and “going” — as in, “Let’s get America going.” Perhaps most surprising is the small size of the word “jobs,” and a barely-there appearance by “Obamacare.”

Lehrer’s constant refrains of “All right, Mr. President” and “All right, Governor Romney” are obvious in the PBS host’s word cloud, along with a pair of words showing his timekeeper function: “two” and “minutes.”

Obama’s delivery style is typically full of spoken “ahs” and “uhs,” but the official transcript left them out. Also missing: “47 percent.”

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