06 June 2007

tracking political discussions to determine relevance...

John had some fun with tag clouds today. For those who may not know, a tag cloud is a simple tool that tracks the frequency a word or phrase is used in a gaggle of text (or a discussion) and represents that frequency graphically. They help communications professionals track and understand discussions a little better. John's a political guy, and decided to see what themes the republicans and democrats invoked in their presidential debates this week and last.

The dems' tag cloud looks like this:

The republicans' cloud looks like this:

In a tag cloud, the bigger the word, the more often it's used. So the dems use the words "care" and "tax" more than the GOP, and the GOP use the words "god" and "government more than the dems.

Political campaigns choose their words very, very carefully. Words and phrases are tested to see if they resonate. For example, there's a reason republicans call the estate tax the "death tax" while democrats call it the "paris hilton tax." Both describe the same thing but the terms are designed to elicit different feelings about the issue.

My question, however, is a little different: are the candidates having the same discussions the American people are having?

I thought I'd generate a tag cloud that follows a different but very important discussion -- moms talking about politics. So take a look at what the women at The Soccer Mom Vote talked about for the entire month of May 2007:

The words in this cloud are all fairly large, so the women are using them a lot. Check out the three clouds and decide for yourself whether the pols and the soccer moms are talking about the same things.


PunditMom said...

Wow! This is a really interesting post and exercise. I want to stay tuned to this one!

FENICLE said...

This was really interesting. I'd seen these "clouds" before, but never understood what they meant exactly.

I've enjoyed reading through many of your posts.

Emily said...

Wow, this is a fantastic idea! What you have already is so telling! I can only imagine how it unfold as we get closer to the Election. You are doing a GREAT thing tracking this!