State of the Union Analysis

This year's State of the Union was about 400 words shorter than last year's State of the Union address. Likely due the changes in Congress, this year's address also had nearly 30 fewer applauses (77 compared to 106 in 2010) and about a third of the laughter (4 compared to 12 in 2010). The word clouds below illustrate some of the key themes of the two speeches. 


I also did some text analysis of the speech this year compared to last year which provides some interesting signs of times.

“America” and “Americans” remain dominant, as do “people,” and “work.” In 2011, “change” fell out of favor and disappeared from the top 50 most frequently used words but “believe,” “future,” and “dream” moved in to fill the void.  With Congressional leadership changes comes vocabulary changes as well – “Democrats” were mentioned slightly more frequently this year (10 times compared to 9 last year), but in 2011 “Republicans” also breached the top 50 most frequently used words (9 times compared to 6 in 2010).     

“Deficit” and “cuts” were as prominent in 2011 as they were in 2010 – which doesn’t leave me hopeful for any meaningful cuts or deficit reductions given the cuts we actually saw in 2010. Topping it off, “government” was actually more frequently used this year.  I'm ignoring context, but the concern remains. Spending showed up 12 times this year and didn't break the top 50 last year while “tax” showed up nearly half as often.    

“System” and “support” gave way to “win” and “success. “Health,” and “economy” showed up half as frequent as they did in 2010 and “banks,” “security,” and “energy” fell out of the top 50.    

Awaking to the fact that we are just a segment of this broad universe, “world” was used 18 times in 2011 – making the top 10 most frequently used words – it didn’t even make the top 50 last year. 

And what is going to keep us relevant in a world that is continuing to progress? In 2011, “education” was twice as frequent (11 in 2011 versus 5 in 2010) and “students” broke the top 50. “Technology,” which wasn’t used once in 2010 was used 8 times in 2011 and “innovation” was used three-times as frequently (9 compared to 3 times last year).  “Idea” only showed up twice in 2010, but was used 10 times in 2011 and “research” was used nine times after only being used once in 2010. 

Here is a listing of the top 50 most frequently used words from both speeches:

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