You Are What You Say: Democrats and Republicans in Blue and Red

Our latest podcast is called “How Biased Is Your Media?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes or get the RSS feed.)

It includes an interview with University of Chicago economist Matthew Gentzkow, who discusses a study he coauthored with Jesse Shapiro about newspaper bias. They used a sample of 433 newspapers and sorted the phrases favored by Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Here, in visual form using Wordle, are the Democrats’ favorite words:

And the Republicans’ favorites:

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  1. Nick says:

    I thought that the “scholoarly” analysis was pretty weak in this last podcast. Real machine learning techniques (see Standford’s online classes if you need references) would have produced better results. Also, the PQ test that was the basis of the decisions was horribly constructed. It’s dumb to post the answers (how each party voted) in the question, and the issues were so arcane that most people’s political positions can’t be accurately judged by them. Furthermore, it assumes that voting record in congress is tied to polticial position (instead of political party). Of course democrats voted for Obama’s health care bill.

    I was intersted in this topic at first, but as I read the underlying research, I was seriously dissapointed.

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  2. TC says:

    “stem” is larger than “cell” because they have both “cell” and “cells” on the map.

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  3. txdave22 says:

    To both parties, most important word is MONEY, which means power, which means Winning.


    You would not know it from Republican cries of class warfare swirling around Mr. Obama’s new budget, which reiterates his calls for higher taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and households earning more than $250,000.

    In fact, affluent Americans have represented a growing portion of the Democratic Party for a generation.



    By 2000, Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, trailed George W. Bush 54 percent to 43 percent among the highest income group (those earning more than $100,000).

    In winning the presidency four years ago, Mr. Obama defeated Senator John McCain

    by 52 percent to 46 percent among voters in the top income group, those earning more than $200,000.

    The conservative author Charles Murray, in his new book “Coming Apart,” which is about the nation’s widening class divide, identifies “Super ZIP codes” that the “hyper-wealthy and hyper-elite” call home.

    Even as he proposed higher taxes on the wealthy in 2008, Mr. Obama beat Mr. McCain

    in 8 of the top 10 such ZIP codes — by a ratio of 2 to 1 in communities like Atherton, Calif.,

    Gladwyne, Pa., and Chappaqua, N.Y.

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  4. George says:

    Unless I’m missing it, where abortion on either list. Surely that falls in the top 50.

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  5. Al McDermid says:

    Well, I took the Tim Groseclose PQ and I have to say that it not very impressive. I scored a 86.6 (or 92.5; the page reloaded and gave me this second result), which I can see is accurate for the questions it asked, but the range of the questions is so narrow, I doubt its value. In fact, I’m wondering if the entire exercise wasn’t designed to prove his thesis of media bias, because, I’m quite obviously a liberal and I don’t see it (expect where it’s explicitly so, e.g. truthdig). In fact, my main news sources are the Economist and New York Times, and relative to this papers, I find the idea of a liberal bias seriously laughable.

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  6. Joe J says:

    Reminds me about a similar study of OWS posters, where the word counts were tallied. The most used words If I remember right were: Debt, student, college, and loans.
    Which was a bit counter to the claim that they were there actually complaining about bank bailouts.

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  7. Mark says:

    I think a Pareto chart would’ve provide a much more interpretable graphical presentation than this “wordle” graphic. Aside from being cute, why would one want to use this graphic?

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