Pronouns used by the candidates in their post-caucus speeches

pronouns used by the candidates in their post-caucus speeches

File this under “random.” I’m not sure what to make of this, but as I was listening to the speeches of the various candidates after the caucus results were in, it occurred to me to count the number of times they used various pronouns.

Incidentally, I found no evidence that Fred Thompson actually spoke at all after his third place finish, so I substituted McCain – who was virtually tied with Thompson anyway.

Some things to note: I omitted instances of “you” in the numerous thank yous that started most of the speeches. McCain’s and Romney’s speeches were especially short – less than four minutes each. I believe Obama’s was the longest, although I didn’t time it. The applause he drew throughout certainly made it even longer. His 22 utterances of the second person pronoun was double Romney’s and nearly triple any of the other candidates. Clinton, perhaps not surprisingly, referred to herself quite a bit – using the first person singular more than any other candidate. Edwards – who also gave a long speech – referred to “we” and “us” more than the other candidates. It’s also worth noting that he devoted a significant part of his speech to stories about particular people (using third person pronouns for them).

For that matter, all the candidates used the third person numerous times to refer to family members and associates, to the other candidates and often in abstract references to “Americans” in general, as well as particular groups of American citizens. Initially, I was counting all the third person pronouns too, but the candidates used “they” to refer to such a wide variety of concepts that it became too muddy for my simple analysis.

Anyway, here are some key quotes from the evening:

Obama: “You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington.”

Edwards: “It’s our responsibility to ensure that we leave America better than we found it; that we give our children a better life than we’ve had.”

Clinton: “I am so ready for the rest of this campaign, and I am so ready to lead.”

Huckabee: “Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize that running for office, it’s not hating those who are in front of us. It’s loving those who are behind us.”

Romney: “We love you. We’re going to miss you for a few months, but we’re coming back. We’ll never forget what you’ve done for us. We love Iowa.”

McCain: “We can feel the momentum that — the same kind of momentum we felt in 2000. I’m very confident with a strong positive finish here that we’re going to win here in New Hampshire.”