The presidential address of Barack Obama was analysed by Schmidt, an assistant professor of History and a core faculty member at Northeastern University. Ben Schmidt tweeted words like “luck”, “lesbian”, “Tesla”, “eBay”, and “Instagram” which had never appeared in a State of the Union Address.
Schmidt analysed Obama’s speech and also compared it with the speeches dating back to 1790. By this, he observed the trends in digitised text. He with his colleague have analysed texts of various newspaper articles and almost 500 episodes of The Simpsons.
He discussed the analysis of Obama’s speech in an interactive article of The Atlantic. He analysed all the State of Union Addresses and noted the frequency of each word used by different presidents. According to Gretchen Heefner, an assistant professor of History, the variations in the speeches reflect America’s changing role in the world.
Schmidt wrote in The Atlantic, “the findings reveal how the words presidents use reflect the twists and turns of American history.” He also gives an example where he says Franklin D. Roosevelt used the word ‘freedom’ and it became popular especially among the Republican presidents. However, Obama used the word fewer than 10 times.
Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy tend to use “college” more number of times. Obama himself has used the word on more than 50 occasions. Schmidt also observed that Obama used the words, “vacations” and “masterful” since Millard Fillmore in 1851 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 used them respectively. His mention of China and the Middle East (which has always been a topic for addresses following Iran’s hostage crisis and Nixon’s 1972 visit) also reflected his interest in these countries. However, there was a little discussion on Africa, which has been the topic of his presidential address in general.