Case Study: Jim Webb Withdraws from the Democratic Nomination for President

October 20, 2015

By Dr. David B. Fogel, Ph.D.

Jim Webb, former senator from Virginia and Secretary of the U.S. Navy, withdrew from consideration for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States today. The text of his withdrawal can be found here.

In these remarks, Webb laments that both major political parties are run by extremists who fight against each other rather than work for the betterment of the country. He suggests that his own views are out of step with both parties and leaves open the unstated possibility that he make seek to run as an independent.

EffectCheck® provides some insight into the lexical emotional flow in Webb’s statement. Overall, as compared to hundreds of political speeches, Webb’s address is high in confidence and moderately high in happiness (see Figure 1). It’s also notably low on average in anxiety, hostility, and depression, even though he effectively attacks a political situation that he appears to believe is broken.

Jim Webb Case Study Figure 1

Figure 1. EffectCheck analysis of the entirety of Webb’s statement.

Of note, Figure 2 shows that Webb departs from his overall low levels of evoking “negative” emotions for one brief section of about 100 words, near the beginning of his address. Here he states, “Americans are disgusted by all this talk of Republicans and Democrats calling each other the enemy instead of reaching across the aisle and finding ways to work together. I know what an enemy really is, from hard personal experience in combat. The other party in America is not the enemy; they are the opposition.” Figure 2 indicates that Webb starts from an emotionally impoverished state of very low impact but builds confidence and happiness consistently into the close of the statement.

Jim Webb Case Study Figure 2

Figure 2. EffectCheck analysis of Webb’s statement using 100-word moving windows. Anxiety, hostility, and depression peak early in the address. Confidence and happiness rise consistently throughout.

Overall, Webb’s address suggests it was effective emotionally for the objectives he had in mind: addressing his discontent with both political parties while laying the foundation for future options with confidence and optimism.