Obama vs. McCain Visual Map of Top Words Used Reveals Campaign Strategy

McCain\'s category cloud of words used most often in his RSS feed

These images were generated by an automated script using the RSS feeds from Obama’s blog and McCain’s campaign RSS feed. The more often a word is used, the larger it appears. Just click on either image to see it bigger and you can really appreciate all their wordsmithing.

No shock to see that McCain’s focused on himself and Obama’s all about the people. It was pretty interesting to see the HIV messaging from Obama and McCain’s seemingly deep desire to communicate that he can host an event. With a strategy like that, the only “celebrity” that may need to worry in November is Ryan Seacrest.

These category clouds were created over at wordle.net which is a pretty interesting tool to use to cut to the core of what someone’s really feeding you in their RSS. I used Obama’s blog RSS feed of http://feeds.feedburner.com/obama08blog and McCain’s “campaign” RSS feed of http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=411d0c95-bcaf-4c20-b299-861a5a1458fa to generate these images.

UPDATE # 1
Since there’s been some controversy about this post, it’s worth noting that the RSS feed on the Obama blog shows the most recent content. If you look at the top blog posts at the time the Wordle cloud was made, you can see why it generated what it did. The resulting category clouds were a snapshot comparison of the content being published by the two candidates at that time.

Do the same one tomorrow and it will look different. The degree of change is specifically related to the level of new content added to the feed. I’m now building a gallery of these daily images to take a look at how they change from day to day. Overall it’s pretty interesting to see how this kind of technology provides additional insight into political messaging.

In regards to all those saying the RSS comparison is not a perfect one to one – I agree – and here’s the challenge. McCain has NOT updated most of his “top” rss feeds since November of 2007! His campaign feed was the only one on his blog that was potentially relevant for comparison.

The Obama RSS link is the current one featured on his blog home page: http://feeds.feedburner.com/obama08blog

For Mccain, the links are listed as the “top” (read: only) RSS feeds on his blog. There is also a link for “[+] View All Feeds” but when you click on it – you get the same four and a large blank screen http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeedList.aspx

Seems to me there’s been a bit of an RSS breakdown of the straight talk express.

HEALTH – Wed, Apr 30, 2008
http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=6ac60dee-dec4-455e-8062-df5847199181

ECONOMY- Wed, Nov 28, 2007
http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=84308fc8-b79b-4709-b04f-91f13a948050

IRAQ – Wed, Nov 28, 2007
http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=ce6432d2-f48e-4249-85de-b09062a04995

SPENDING – Wed, Nov 28, 2007
http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=0e88b617-9fa6-4d64-9346-c4a0acc2822b

CAMPAIGN – Thu, Jul 31, 2008
http://www.johnmccain.com/Blog/RssFeed.aspx?tguid=411d0c95-bcaf-4c20-b299-861a5a1458fa

UPDATE # 2 – October 6th, 2008

BARACK OBAMA RSS WORDCLOUD

JOHN MCCAIN RSS WORDCLOUD

It’s now about two months after the original post above and not one of the McCain’s RSS feeds have been updated. Nothing about the economy (despite a dedicated feed for it and that pesky Wall Street bailout you might have heard about), or a peep about his campaign (despite the Palin pick). To give credit, McCain’s blog posts have been updated regularly, but the RSS feeds are still starving for content. Once again we had to not include the Iraq and Spending RSS feeds because they haven’t been updated since 2007. The most recent update was his “campaign” feed back on July 31st.

Obama’s RSS feed on the other hand is updated daily. His word cloud is what you would expect. Confident, bold, and dare I say – presidential? Obviously there are hundreds of issues more important to judge a candidate on than word clouds, but when these data visualizations reflect what each cares most about, a simple comparison speaks volumes. One leaps off the screen as relevant, in-touch and energized. The other – outdated, out-of-commission and slowing down with each passing month.

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