An EffectCheck® Analysis of Gov. Scott Walker’s Announcement of his Candidacy for U.S. President

August 18, 2015

By David B. Fogel, Ph.D.

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) announced his candidacy for president of the United States on July 13, 2015. His speech was given to a live audience in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It lasted about 30 minutes and incorporated just over 3000 words. The video of his announcement can be found here, and the transcript found here. As we’ve done with other candidates, it’s of interest to analysis Walker’s speech with EffectCheck® and assess his lexical use of emotion throughout the address.

Overview

Using EffectCheck to assess the speech in its entirety reveals (Figure 1) that Walker evoked considerably more confidence, compassion, and happiness than is found in most other political speeches. In addition, he evoked low levels of depression. In these regards, Walker’s overall emotional “signature” closely follows that of Jeb Bush (See EffectCheck Analysis of Jeb Bush’s AddressEffectCheck Analysis of Jeb Bush’s Address) and varies from the approach taken by Donald Trump (See EffectCheck Analysis of Donald Trump’s AddressEffectCheck Analysis of Donald Trump’s Address), which evoked more anxiety, hostility, and depression.

Walker Figure

Figure 1. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions in Walker’s announcement.



The Opening of Walker’s Speech

The opening to Walker’s address related his experiences with specific U.S. veteran’s he has known over many years. This opening evoked high confidence, compassion, and happiness (Figure 2), quite different than the approach Donald Trump used in his opening remarks. (The first quarter of Trump’s announcement evoked very low confidence.)

Walker Figure

Figure 2. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions in Walker’s opening remarks.



Walker Turns to His Own Accomplishments

After addressing the “can-do” attitude of U.S. Veterans and exclaiming that the federal government hasn’t gotten the job done, Walker addressed several of his own accomplishment as governor of Wisconsin. Interestingly, the evoked emotions here were relatively flat, including typical levels of anxiety and depression, and close to high levels of hostility (Figure 3). In part, Walker evoked these “negative” emotions while indicating what he has done to reduce taxes. Despite being contextually positive, lexically, this still evokes anxiety, hostility, and depression.

Walker Figure

Figure 3. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions while Walker addressed his own accomplishments as governor.



Real Reform and Pro-Growth

Walker’s address then turns formally to a new topic, identified by the campaign itself as a section on “real reform,” which details a view toward government “closest to the people” and empowering individuals. Here, Walker’s evoked high to very high confidence, compassion, and happiness (Figure 4) and low levels of anxiety, hostility, and depression.

Walker Figure

Figure 4. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions during Walker’s “Real Reform” section.



Following this section, there’s another formal section entitled “Pro-Growth” in which Walker identified some of the action he would like to see taken , which included repealing ObamaCare, putting in place new energy policy including approving the Keystone pipeline, and funding schools at the state level. Figure 5 shows Walker continued to evoke a very positive emotional message here.

Walker Figure

Figure 5. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions during Walker’s “Pro-Growth” section.



True Safety

Walker then turns attention to global conflicts and the threat of terrorism. In this section of his address, it’s understandable as he addressed these matters that he would evoke higher levels of depression, hostility, and anxiety (Figure 6); however, he also manages to evoke above-average levels of confidence, compassion, and happiness.

Walker Figure

Figure 6. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions during Walker’s “True Safety” section.



Announcement and Conclusion

Walker concludes by formally announcing his candidacy offers and a prescription for more “independence from government” rather than “dependence on it.” In this conclusion, Walker classically evokes extremely high levels of confidence, compassion, and happiness (Figure 7).

Walker Figure

Figure 7. Histogram of lexical evoked emotions during Walker’s formal announcement of candidacy and concluding remarks.



Summary

Walker’s announcement followed a traditional emotional flow of evoking generally low levels of anxiety, hostility, and depression, and high level of confidence, compassion, and happiness. Walker didn’t use much emotional nuance between anxiety, hostility, and depression, as each of these correlated highly throughout the speech (Figure 8). The same applies for confidence, compassion, and happiness (Figure 9). Overall, his announcement address evidenced a carefully crafted speech that touched on common political themes and evoked emotions mainly within the dichotomy of “positive” and “negative.”

Walker Figure

Figure 8. 100-word moving windows of evoked anxiety, hostility, and depression on the entirety of Walker’s announcement speech.



Walker Figure

Figure 8. 100-word moving windows of evoked anxiety, hostility, and depression on the entirety of Walker’s announcement speech.