In about six months, elections will be held in the United States to choose a new president. These elections are followed with considerable interest by a large part of the world’s public opinion and there is no doubt that the elements of crisis that have emerged in these months will make these elections unique and extremely interesting.
Many scholars and analysts are trying, as usual, to classify the candidates according to their positions and program. The most classic criterion of classification is right vs left, which sees candidates positioned along this only dimension. However, this system is considered obsolete by many scholars because it is not always possible to summarize the complexity of a political program in this dimension alone (which should only consider positions on economic issues). For this reason, more recent analyses have opted for the adoption of a system based on two dimensions: the right vs left and the libertarian/progressive vs authoritarian/conservative. This model is generally known as Political Compass (more information can be found here). The use of this system to model political dimensions has become extremely popular in recent years, and the compass technique has also been used for purposes that transcended pure political analysis, even becoming a famous format for meme (for example, this is the dedicated instagram page).
This article takes its cue from this two-dimensional classification of the Political Compass to show how the main exponents of the US electoral campaign are placed, but this time not on purely political dimensions but in a context more related to the personality of the individual. More in detail, the speeches of the presidential candidates (Trump and Biden) will be analyzed together with the main candidates for the democratic primaries (Warren, Bloomberg, Sanders) to classify them under a different point of view from the more common one.
In the following sections, two characteristics of the candidates’ communications will be
examined. The first is the use of masculine and feminine terms, while the second is the
emotionality that is conveyed in the speech, that can be more positive or negative. These two dimensions can be identified by the frequency with which certain expressions are present in sentences. To carry out this analysis the 100 Worte analysis tool has been used. This software not only helps to analyze text in different languages, but it also provides suggestions for fine-tuning the speeches and adapt them to different circumstances. For example, it is possible to check the level of feminine speech and follow the suggestions to increase (or decrease) it.
In the figure, it is possible to observe how the protagonists of this campaign are classified according to these guidelines. The results are very interesting, especially when compared to their position in the traditional Political Compass. In fact, in this case, we can observe how Trump is almost centrally positioned compared to the other candidates, while Biden is particularly far from his previous challengers in the primaries in one dimension while in the other is closed to the center.
Analyzing the male vs female dimension, we can see that Warren is in a more extreme position, tending to a purely masculine style of speech (a very curious result, since she is also the only woman analyzed). This result on the one hand seems to confirm the greater centrality of Biden both with respect to other candidates and in general, with respect to the dimension examined (he is close to the zero in the horizontal axes).
When analyzing the second position (positive vs negative mood) we notice that this time Biden stands far from all the others and has a more positive approach, while Sanders, his main opponent in the primaries, seems to be the one with a more negative style.
To conclude, deciding to classify the candidates under this aspect instead of in the more
traditional dimensions, it is possible to see how Trump is no longer an extreme element, but, on the contrary, he is the most centrist. On the other hand, Sanders is the candidate who is, overall, the most extreme, characterized by speeches with strong male and negative elements.
If we want to hazard a classification on these bases we could say that in forming homogeneous groups, in this context and with these dimensions analyzed, are Warren and Sanders (actually not only party mates, but are also considered to have similar positions in the compass) and Trump and Bloomberg are also quite close. Detached from all of them is Biden, a candidate who tends to be considered more centrist in the most traditional classification.