April 4, 2006
Smart Talk and Girly Talk on the Campaign Trail (Richard Morin, April 4, 2006, Washington Post)
Forget the Swift boat ads, the economy or international terrorism. Here's what really may have decided the last presidential election:
President Bush and Vice President Cheney sounded more presidential than their Democratic counterparts. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) seemed the most depressed or suicidal. And Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), sounded the most like a "girly man."
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin collected transcripts of 271 televised interviews, news conferences, town hall meetings and candidate debates conducted in 2004. The speech samples -- more than 400,000 words in all -- were run through a computer text-analysis program. The team included lead author Richard B. Slatcher, a doctoral candidate in psychology, and professor James W. Pennebaker. [...]
Cheney easily sounded the smartest of the four, while Edwards and Bush favored the least sophisticated language patterns, Slatcher and his colleagues report in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Research in Personality. When it came to sounding presidential, both Bush and his running mate scored considerably higher than Kerry or Edwards. Bush was the oldest-sounding candidate. Edwards also was the most likely to use feminine speech patterns and "female" words (Bush was a close second), while Cheney sounded most like a man's man.
The vice president sounded the most honest of the four, and Kerry the least. Kerry's language also was most like that of a depressed person, followed by Edwards. Perhaps that's inevitable; after all, challengers must sound gloomy and doomy about their opponents' records, though in doing so they run clear risks.
"Voters are most favorable toward those candidates who are the most optimistic," Slatcher said.
The Democrats ought to replace the donkey with a bell jar. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2006 9:36 PM