What Rage? Frustration and Disappointment Outdistance Anger and Rage by 275%

What Political Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part II

AUSTIN, Texas.  October 21, 2010 — Reports of ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ at the economy, incumbents or President Obama himself as the main theme of the 2010 Mid-term elections have been greatly overstated, possibly for political motivations. In an analysis of the Top

Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-terms, Global Language Monitor (GLM), has determined that the words ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ and their various combinations come in a distant second to words associated with ‘disappointment’, ‘frustration’ or being ‘let down’ by the actions of the Administration.

Obama
Anger and Rage: 27%
Disappoint and Frustration: 73%

GLM has also found that the top three subjects linked to ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ outside the Administration are Healthcare Reform, the various actions termed Bailouts, and the initial Stimulus package, formally named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Anger
Healthcare Reform: 52%
Stimulus Package: 33%
Bailout: 15%

Internet, Blogs and Social Media

GLM has found ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ to appear far less in the media on the internet, blogs and social media sites than one might expect from reading the headlines. In the last 30 days, the New York Times used the word ‘rage’ in political contexts some 70 times, a far greater percentage than what was found in the overall media, on the Internet, the Blogosphere and in Social Media.

Read the Where Congress Goes to Blog on the Hill.

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Anti-incumbent Rage

The phrase ‘incumbent rage’ is highlighted as a major trend of the Mid-term elections. Once again, the use of this phrase and variations is noteworthy only in their dearth of references.

World-wide news searches find that ‘anti-incumbent’ appears about 550 times in the global media in the last 30 days, of which some twenty percent of the references appear in the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, while ‘anti-incumbent rage’ appears twice. In comparison, the word incumbent appears some 19,000 times.

Global Media Percentage of Total
Incumbent: 96.97%
Anti-incumbent: 3.02%
Anti-incumbent Rage: 0.01%

When you add in the Internet, the Blogs and Social Media as well the top 5,000 global media, the total number of citations approach 20,000,000 and reflect a broader dialogue about the topic. However, ‘anti-incumbent rage’ still hovers below 1%.

Internet Percentage of Total
Incumbent: 99.16%
Anti-incumbent: 0.80%
Anti-incumbent Rage: 0.05%

Lack of Competitiveness in Congressional Races

Over the last several decades, the political cognoscenti have bemoaned the lack of competitiveness of congressional elections. Both parties, of course, have done all within their power to keep it that way, primarily through the gerrymandering of districts to their own benefit. The latest trend is to create ‘majority-minority’ districts that virtually ensure the election of a member of a specific demographic group.

In 2010, various news organizations estimate that there are between 35 and 80 competitive congressional districts, or districts ‘in-play’. This is, of course, is attributed to ‘voter’ and/or ‘anti-incumbent rage.’ Even so, this means that a majority of districts, ranging from 92% to 81% are still considered non-competitive. To our way of thinking, this is a very important development – and one that should be further encouraged.

Congressional Districts: 435
Competitive Maximum (80): 18.39%
Competitive Minimum (35): 8.05%

Positive vs. Negative Tea Party Citations

In a related finding, GLM found that overall the Tea Party is viewed more positively than negatively, by a small percentage of the overall number of citations.

Tea Party
Positive Associations: 54%
Negative associations: 46%

We will discuss this further in What the Top Political Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part III.

GLM’s Top Political Buzzwords are based on the Narrative Tracker Index. Narrative Tracker is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. Narrative Tracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

To read What Political Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part I (The Vetting of the President), go here.

To read about the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-term Elections, go here.

About The Global Language Monitor

Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email editor@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com
Paul JJ Payack


The Vetting of the President

What the Top Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote, Part I

AUSTIN, Texas,  October 4, 2010 — Recently, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) announced that the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-term Election.   GLM found that the buzzwords portrayed a strongly negative narrative that has increasingly entangled the president and his party.   The Top Ten Buzzwords included Narrative, Lower Taxes, Obama as a Muslim, Conservative, Climate Change, Liberal, Recession (linked to Obama), Hillary Clinton related to Obama, Tea Partiers, and Obama as Aloof, Detached, or Professorial.  In the interim GLM has found that Obama as a Smoker will break into the Top Ten when the list is updated two week hence.

This is the first of a number of reports that will analyze what the top political buzzwords seemingly tells us about the upcoming vote.

The first thing you notice about the Top Political Buzzwords of the Midterm Elections is that many concern President Obama as a person.  Two years into his presidency, this tells us something about the president’s relationship to the American people:   a good number of citizens are only now beginning to understand the president as a person.  And it is interesting to see that many news organizations, apart from the blogs and talk radio shows, are also following these citizens’ lead.  Only now is President Obama being ‘vetted’.

According to yourDictionary.com,  ‘to vet’ is the process ‘to examine, investigate, or evaluate in a thorough or expert way’.    In the throes of Obama-mania, many were apparently willing to take a chance on the engaging, handsome, thoughtful newcomer, especially after many eventful and exhausting years under his predecessor.   We read the autobiographies, we joined the explosive rallies, and we watched as the entire world seemed to yearn for a ‘regime change’ in the US.   We were, after all, the people we had been waiting for.   But in the ‘rush to victory’ we never really got to know the president.  not in the same way we knew, say, Hillary.

We’ve known Hillary, her husband, her daughter, her history, her religion, her schooling, her scandals, alleged or otherwise, the rumors, for better or for ill — we know Hillary.

And we knew John McCain’s life since Vietnam, Albert Gore’s roommate at Harvard, GBW’s stint as a cheerleader at Andover, John Kerry testifying before congress in ’69,  Bush pere , and Bush pere’s pere, Ronald Reagan since Bedtime for Bonzo, and so on. All of the above have decades of public service and have (or had) been vetted every which way possible, and then some.

An exception, of course, was Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia (and nuclear engineer) — as he first introduced himself to the nation.  Carter was elected to office at least partly as an antidote to what had transpired before him (Watergate), and was thought to be part of a national cleansing, a fresh start, a break with a troubled past.  And, like Obama, was relatively new to the political scene, and lightly vetted, when elected to the presidency.

In Barack Obama’s case he is more than a self-made man; Obama is a self-defined man.   In this he is not unlike John F. Kennedy with the legend of PT-109 and his Pulitzer-prize best-seller, Profiles in Courage, which was, perhaps, ghost-written.  Though JFK was a relative newcomer to the national scene, the stories of Joe Kennedy as a ‘rum-runner’ during Prohibition and his maternal grandfather ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald, the storied Boston politician, were circulating for decades before JFK stood for the presidency.

As a self-defined man, much of the traditional vetting provided by the media was compressed into a number of months, and much of that was taken directly from his autobiographies, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. And so we are back to the self-defined man, to a large extent, vetting himself.

And so it is none too surprising that many of the buzzwords surrounding the Midterms are about Obama as a man, a person, a personality.

Comparing data from just before the 2008 general election, we see much the same patterns as today.  Citations about Obama’s religion, his supposed ‘aloofness,’ and even his smoking were much higher than what we had seen for other candidates (Bush, Kerry, Gore, etc.) in the previous two election cycles.

What we are seeing in the data appears to be a continuation of the process that ordinarily would have been ongoing  for a decade or more.  So the public vetting of the president continues on the Internet, in the Blogs, throughout Social Media, and in the print and electronic media, itself.

- Paul JJ Payack


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