Friday, July 27, 2012

Obama's "If you" Campaign Message

Being a responsible American citizen, I often read President Obama's speeches that he posts online for the voting public's reference (White House: Speeches & Remarks). Recently, I've noticed that the phrase:

"If you ..."

appears very often. Wondering if there is a common theme, I read through the past 100 speeches posted from July 4, 2012 to - July 26, 2012 and looked for occurrences of this phrase. The following is a summary of my findings.

Of the 100 speeches listed, 56 were titled as campaign speeches. Mr. Obama delivered 41 of them, and Michelle Obama delivered 15. Of the others, the topics were broad, ranging from wildfire and shooting visits, to sports, picnics, and awards. Two of the speeches were delivered by others: VP Joe Biden, and Mr Geithner.

All of the campaign speeches presented "if you" messages to the audience. The most frequent of these were:
  • 107 times - "if you work hard ..." (variations: if you "are willing to work",  "apply yourself", "put in enough effort" ) 
  • 31 times - "if you try ..."
  • 26 times - "if you act responsibly ..." (variations: if you "take responsibility",  "are responsible", "meet your responsibilities" , "show responsibility" ) 
  • 19 times - "if you've got health insurance ..." (variations: if you "are paying your policy" ) 
  • 14 times - "if you don't have health insurance ..." (variations: if you "can afford",  "did have" )  
  • 11 times - "if you get sick ..." (variations: if you "get a serious illness",  "got a preexisting condition", "are a senior" )  
  • 15 times - "if you still believe (in me) ..."
  • 6 times - "if you’re willing to stand with me ..." (variations: if you "stick with me" ) 
Other less frequent topics touched on:
  • 5 times - "if you’re hurting ..." (variations: if you "have been unlucky", "have a string of bad luck", "don't have a job" )
  • 2 times - "if you don’t want to help yourself ..." (variations: "if you’re irresponsible" )
  • 3 times - "if you earn $250,000 or less ..." (variations: if you "are one of the 98%" )
  • 4 times - "if you’ve been successful ..." (variations: if you "are wealthy",  "fortunate enough to be the other 2%" )
  • 3 times - "if you can change .."
While there are many more "if you" references, most of those have been presented only once.

From this information, we can identify the Obama re-election campaign speech strategy.

Little of President Obama's message is definitive, highlighting his accomplishments or stating his vision and intentions. Instead, it is focused on the individual listeners. His message is that of a pastor, a fatherly shepard who is leading his flock. Do as I say. Live right, work hard, be responsible and try. 

If you do that,
"I will be re-elected".

Then, I can continue to live in the White House, travel on Air Force One, host extravagent parties, and take luxurous vacations.

If you do the right thing, the economy will get better. It's your fault that the economy is not in better shape. That is because you are not trying and working hard enough.

I am giving you hope. That is all the country needs.

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