Case Study: Comparing the Lexical Effects of Scott Walker’s Victory Speech and Tom Barrett’s Concession Speech

By David B. Fogel, Ph.D.

June 7, 2012

On June 5, 2012, Wisconsin voters reconfirmed Governor Scott Walker as their governor in an historic recall election. Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, earning 53.1% of the vote compared with Barrett’s 46.3%. We used EffectCheck® to analyze both Walker’s victory speech and Barrett’s concession speech for their lexical impacts.

Similar Results Despite Different Contexts

Walker and Barrett each evoked very similar emotional profiles. Their speeches are copied below for convenience. The EffectCheck profiles for their remarks across the six main emotional scales of anxiety, hostility, depression, confidence, compassion, and happiness were viewed both from the perspective of political speech and thank you addresses.

First, here are the results for Walker’s address (see Graphs 1a and 1b):

Scott Walker's Speech Political EffectCheck Analysis Scott Walker's Speech Thank You EffectCheck Analysis

Graph 1a: EffectCheck profile for Scott Walker’s address
as compared to other political speeches.

Graph 1b: EffectCheck profile for Scott Walker’s address
as compared to thank-you messages.

Next, here are the results for Barrett’s address (see Graphs 2a and 2b):

Tom Barrett's Speech Political EffectCheck Analysis Tom Barrett's Speech Thank You EffectCheck Analysis

Graph 2a: EffectCheck profile for Tom Barrett’s address
as compared to other political speeches.

Graph 2b: EffectCheck profile for Tom Barrett’s address
as compared to thank-you messages.

The lexical emotional profiles of these addresses are remarkably similar. Each candidate evoked relatively high levels of compassion and happiness, and low levels of confidence, anxiety, hostility, and depression relative to typical political speeches. Communications at the conclusion of an election are not typical speeches, however, so it was important to view these addresses in light of thank-you communications. The results show that the lexical impacts were quite typical of thank-you communications, although Walker did evoke slightly higher levels of anxiety, hostility, depression, and confidence.

Word Cloud Analysis

Although the overall emotional impact appeared similar, the words used were quite different, particularly with regard to anxiety. As shown in Graphs 3a and 3b, the word cloud of priming effects for Walker’s address evoked anxiety through the words {hard, but, work, crisis, no, not}, whereas as Barrett’s address evoked anxiety through the words {fight, fought, end}. The words reflect clearly the context of the individual candidate’s messages.

Coca-Cola EffectCheck Analysis Coca-Cola EffectCheck Analysis

Graph 3a: Word cloud for anxiety from Walker’s address.

Graph 3b: Word cloud for anxiety from Barrett’s address.

Scott Walker’s Address

Wow, what a crowd.
First of all -- first of all I want to -- I want to thank God for his abundant grace.

Next, I particularly want to thank not only you here, but people all across the state. I want to thank you for your prayers, because, for the last year-and-a-half, the thing that has sustained Tonette and I and Matt and Alex so much is not just at campaign events, but literally at factories and farms and small businesses, just about every day over the past year-and-a-half, I've met people at every one of those stops. And what has sustained us is people -- many times, people I've never met before, come off the line, come off the farm and say, governor, we're praying for you and your family. I can't tell what you what means to me.

And speaking of my family, how about keeping Tonette as the first lady of Wisconsin?

Tonette has just been a rock. She is so courageous, so strong. I'm so glad, more than 20 years ago, on May 1, 1992, she agreed to have that first date with me and it's been heaven ever since. Together, we're proud to have two sons -- I was going to say boys, but they're not boys anymore -- two sons, Matt and Alex. They've been through a lot this last year-and-a-half. I couldn't be more proud of them. Matt is going to graduate on Saturday. And Alex is going to be a senior.

They've just been spectacular.
Tonette mentioned the rest of their fam -- the rest of our family. My mom and dad, I know a lot of you in our victory centers have gotten my mom's chocolate chip cookies. You've got to love those. My mom and dad; my brother, David; my sister-in-law, Maria; my two beautiful nieces, Isabella and Eva; my father-in-law, Tony; to all my family here and to so many of our long time friends, so many who lifted us up over the last year-and-a-half, even when times were tough, we say thank you for all of them.

It's great to see so many kids out here, too, because that's what it's all about, faith, family and freedom. I want to thank our tremendous lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

To Rebecca, to her husband, State Representative Joe Kleefisch, their two beautiful daughters, thank you to them for standing up with us as well for the proud taxpayers of Wisconsin. And I want to thank my incredible staff, both on the campaign and the cabinet and our capital staff, to all the tremendous volunteers from all across this state. Tonette talked about it, more than 4 million voter contacts, the staff, the volunteers, the supporters, we cannot thank you all enough. Thank you to all of you here. There's a tent outside with an overflow because we couldn't violate the fire code here, but there are people all over this area and all across the state, on behalf of our family, we say thank you to all of you.

And thanks to all of you and everybody at home watching tonight. Thanks to all the people who yet again entrusted in me your vote as the governor to be the 45th and continue to be the 45th governor of the great state of Wisconsin.

I want to tell you something though, just let me share with you a quick little story. Last fall, Tonette and I had a chance -- I was going to a governors' association meeting. And we had a chance to travel to Philadelphia. And I went to Independence Hall.

As a kid we grew up in a small town where I loved to study history. But my parents, we didn't have a lot of money and so we didn't get to often go to places like Philadelphia or Washington. So me it was the first trip to Independence Hall.

And I got to tell you, I was so touched. I stood in there and I looked at those desks and I looked in those chairs. And even though as a kid growing up, I thought of our founders as superheroes, as bigger than life, standing in that hall, it dawned on me that these were ordinary people.

Ordinary people who did something extraordinary. They didn't just risk their political careers. They didn't just risk their businesses. They literally risked their lives for the freedom we hold so dear today, and the men and women in uniform in this country defend every single day.

Moments like that remind me why America and why Wisconsin are so great. You see, what has made our country unbelievable, what has made the United States of America exceptional, what has made the United States arguably one of the greatest countries in the history of the world is that in times of crisis, either economic or fiscal, be they military or spiritual, in times of crisis what has made America amazing has been the fact that, throughout our history, throughout the more than 200 years of our history, there have been men and women of courage, who have stood up and decided it was more important to look out for the future of their children and their grandchildren than their own political futures.

And what has sustained them -- what has sustained them here in Wisconsin across our country, has been when there have been leaders of courage. What has sustained them is there were good and decent people who stood with them, shoulder to shoulder and arm to arm, that's what you have done for Wisconsin and for America. Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions -- -- but now -- but now it is time to move on and move forward in Wisconsin.

Tomorrow I'll meet with my cabinet in the state's capital, and we'll renew our commitment to help small businesses grow jobs in this state.

We'll renew our commitment to help grow the quality of life for all of our citizens, both those who voted for me and those who voted for someone else. Because tomorrow -- tomorrow is the day after the election. And tomorrow we are now no longer opponents. Tomorrow we are one as Wisconsinites. So together we can move Wisconsin forward.

A few minutes ago I talked to Mayor Tom Barrett. No, no, no. No, no, the election is over. I talked to the mayor, and we had a good talk. And I said I'm committed to working with you to help the city of Milwaukee and to help the state of Wisconsin. Tomorrow the election is over. It's time to move Wisconsin forward.

I've learned much over the last year and a half. There's no doubt about it. You know, early in 2011, I rushed in to try and fix things before I talked about them, because you see, for years, too many politicians I've seen, not only in Madison but in Washington and beyond, talked about things but never fixed them.

Well, but I want to tell you, looking ahead, we know it's under -- it's important to do both, looking ahead to tackle the challenges that face all of the people of Wisconsin.

We're both going to be committed to talking together about how to solve problems and then working together, we're going to move forward with the solutions that put our state back on the right track towards more freedom and more prosperity for all of our people. Bringing our state together will take some time. There's just no doubt about it. But I want to start out right away. In fact, next week, I'm going to invite all the members of the state legislature, Republican and Democrat alike, and what better way to bring people together than to invite them over for some brats and some burgers, right? And maybe a little bit of good Wisconsin beer as well. Because I believe there is more that unites us than divides us. I believe that now the election is done, we can move on and we can move forward.

I believe that, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, now is the time for us to come together, to tackle the challenges that faced our small businesses, to tackle the challenges that face our families and our businesses and our seniors and all the people who care about the future of this state.

Now is the time to move forward. And I've got to tell you, I'm committed to it. I'm committed not just to all of you here. I'm committed to everybody back at home, whether you voted for me or not. I'm committed because for me, the most important reason I ran for governor two years ago, the most important reason I was willing to make the tough decisions and the most important reason why I'm committed to work with anyone and everyone in this state who wants to help move this state forward are the two young men standing on the stage back behind me.

I believe -- I believe as I believe people all across this state, you know, we've had amazing numbers of people turn out to vote. But I believe what inspires us in this state is the fact that ultimately we go to work and we work hard every day.

Those who us who are moms and dads, just like Tonette and I and the grandmas and grandpas who did it before us. We go to work and we work hard every single day, not just for a paycheck, not to put food on the table, not just to put clothes on the backs of our kids. We go to work every single day and we work hard for the same reason you work hard and people all across the state work hard. We work hard because we want our children to inherit a better life, a better home, a better community and thanks to your vote today, a better state than the one we inherited, together, we're going to move Wisconsin forward.

Thank you. God bless you and God bless the great state of Wisconsin.

Tom Barrett’s Address

Good evening!

Thank you all for joining us on a historic night. I am honored that you are all here. I am honored that you have all fought for this democracy that is so important to each and every one of us.

I want to begin by introducing my wife, Kris, who has stood by my side for many, many years. Our children, Tommy, Annie, Erin and Kate, who have been out there working for their dad, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Give them a round of applause. I just got off the phone with Gov. Walker and congratulated him on his victory tonight.

We agreed it is important for us to work together. And I want to thank all of you for the work that you have done.

This has been the most amazing experience of our lives. And what we have seen over the last 16 months is we have seen this democracy come alive.

To those of you who fought, who obtained signatures, who stood out in the cold, who did what you thought was right – never ever stop doing what you think is right. That’s what makes this such a great country.

To those of who care about this city, which I love, to those of you who care about this state, which I love – please, please, please remain engaged, remain involved, because we will continue to fight for justice and fairness in this city and this state.

And as I’ve traveled this state the last several months, I was amazed. I was simply amazed at the energy, the excitement that I saw in people throughout this state.

And you, if you have been with me, would feel as honored as I do to have gotten that opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. People who care about their families. People who care about their communities. People who care about the future of this state.

The energy that I have received the last two and a half months has come from you. It has come from the people of this state. And I thank you for that.

But now we must look to the future, and our challenges are real. We are a state that has been deeply divided. And it is up to all of us – our side and their side – to listen. To listen to each other and to try to do what’s right for everyone in this state.

The state remains divided, and it is my hope that while we have lively debates, a lively discourse which is healthy in any democracy, that those who are victorious tonight as well as those of us who are not victorious tonight can at the end of the day do what is right for Wisconsin families.

That is what our duty is. That is what we must do for the people of this state.

So this is not an end tonight. This is an end of another chapter of Wisconsin’s history.

But there are more chapters to come, and in those chapters it is my sincere hope that all of us here will remain engaged.

And for those of you who have been involved for the first time or the twentieth time, I hope that you got the same energy from this that I did. Because I will continue to fight for this city, I will continue to fight for the people in this city, and I will continue to try to do what is right for all of us.

Thank you very much. Let’s go get ‘em. Have a great evening. Thank you.