Charismatic Rhetoric in the 2008 Presidential Campaign: Commonalities and Differences Across the Candidates
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
The field of candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign was easily the most diverse in U.S. history, encompassing racial and gender diversity on the Democratic side and a minority religion on the Republican side. In this paper, we explore the extent to which these factors and other factors affected the candidates'use of charismatic rhetoric. The extant literature in political science is scarce, focuing either on how voters use socio-demographic cues as information shortcuts or on the ways that candidates strategically emphasize certain issues, while down-playing others. In this paper, we compare the use of charismatic language by major party candidates in the 2008 election. We address the key questions. First, does the campaign rhetoric vary across the candidates? Second, does the rhetoric vary for individual candidates? Third and most importantly, what explains these differences? We utilize diction 5.0, a content analysis program, specifically designed for political discourse to identify commonalities and differences in more than 400 speeches and interviews given by the Democratic and Republican candidates.
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