Big Data and Data Science Used to Uncover Truths about President Obama.

5 facts you didn’t know about Barack Obama.


In This post i will give you an unbiased look and insight at the political views of current President, Barack Obama using Data Science.

This is a result of a research done in 2013 in which I assembled nearly 1 gigabyte of Barack Obama speeches and remarks scraped from the Whitehouse’s website , i analysed every word and every sentence using a combination of Distributed computing ,artificial intelligence and Natural language processing algorithms.

My main aim has been to showcase the extraordinary potential data science has to improve our understanding of geopolitical situations, by allowing us to test and refine existing assumptions -such as president focus- and make new discoveries, such as the clear impact of an election debate over the country’s situation.

I'm sure it’s an incredibly useful piece of info … those following facts were proved with data.

FACT NUMBER 1 : Obama focuses more on Internal affairs

The variety of different types of speaking opportunities (from state of union speeches, remarks by the president to presidential debates) means that there is space for quite a wide range of issues to be discussed in any given year.

Nevertheless,we might also expect that the president focuses on specific issues of importance at specific times, to the detriment of others, both because of wider changes in geopolitical situations and because of the agenda of the Bureau of president, which is able to control to an extent the topics exposed.

The figures below track changes in the extent to which different topics were discussed by Obama (2009 ,2012 and 2013). A number of conclusions can be drawn from this graphics. Some topics, such as economy, jobs and taxes have remained relatively stable over time, year on year fluctuations taken into account. Others have shown notable trends such as Romney and security and military.

Most used words by Obama in 2009
Most used words by Obama in 2012
Most used words by Obama in 2013

Two broad conclusions can be drawn from this analysis of the topics discussed by Barack Obama. Firstly, in the space of a year, the scope for discussion is large. Only the environment can genuinely claim to have received little attention, the president focuses on his speech mainly on internal affairs like recession and economy. Secondly, however, attention does change over time, and in particular does seem to be clearly linked to external events like presidential elections and crisis.

FACT NUMBER 2: Obama’s Style is very Persuasive

Obama’s Persuasive style

Obama’s success may in no small part be due to his speech style which combines words emphasizing certainty, thinking, and causation , in fact Obama uses loads of emotive words like We, Americans , people

Variation of modality, indicative and conditional sentences computed from Obama Remarks and speeches from 2009-2013

For instance, the presidential speeches have a constant amount of certainty and indicative form around 80%, which means that every speech has the same degree of certainty, in other words, expressions of belief, attitude and obligation remain balanced even with major events and crisis. But conditional sentences’ frequencies change over major events.

We can notice a repetitive pattern over each year as Obama uses more
conditional sentences at the end of each year.

As in August, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011 to raise the federal debt ceiling , in that period he used more conditional statements to wish or suggest resolutions depending upon other conditions.

We can also notice that he was using more and more
conditional statements months before the elections to present
his program to American citizens with a high optimistic and persuasive way.

FACT NUMBER 3: Obama gives more focus to Russia and China

In fact Most Referenced Countries after USA were Russia , China and North Korea.

Meeting between Obama and Putin

The figure below tracks frequency of which the president speaks or make a reference to different countries:

Map of frequency of which countries were referenced in speeches

We can notice 4 levels in this graph:

  • The first level is a light grey which covers countries like Morocco, South Africa and Norway; these countries are lightly referenced or not referenced at all by the president.
  • The second level is a light blue that covers mainly European and some middle-east, Arab countries and former URSS countries like France, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Ukraine.
  • The third level is sky blue that covers some powerful countries like (Russia , China , Israel) and “controversial” countries like (Iran , North Korea, Afghanistan , Iraq) those countries were widely referenced in within different topics.
  • The Fourth level is sky blue, which is represented by United States, which means President Obama gives major important to United States in his speeches.

This can only confirm the president’s foreign policy and importance he gives towards other nations.

FACT NUMBER 4: President Obama is happier while talking about his plans

In this section I want to move on to look in more detail at the President’s sentiment regarding some major events, analysing the extent to which his polarity and the subjectivity of his speeches change according to the
environment , The results of these classifications are summarised in the next figure.

Variation of sentiment and subjectivity computed from Obama Remarks and speeches from 2009-2013

In October, 4 2010, President Obama met with the Economic Recovery Advisory Board to discuss economic difficulties and recovery plans, president Obama gave multiple speeches in the same month after that date to present the situation and to give some plans for recovery, we can clearly notice in Figure 9, that president’s sentiment was negative but with a slightly negative subjectivity in the speech, which shows that he was less optimistic about the situation.

In the week of December, 10 2010, President Obama hold a news conference regarding the tax cut and unemployment benefits compromise and signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, in that particular period it appears that president Obama had a high positive sentiment over the situation and spoke with high subjectivity, which can clearly show that he was giving a good news to his citizens and was optimistic about the future.

In May 1 2011, Obama announces that Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan, as the figure shows, Obama’s sentiment increased significantly and gave a speech with higher subjectivity, the president mentioned that his war
against terrorism has won a big challenge by the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda.

We can also notice from the figure that the President sentiment correlates perfectly with Subjectivity.

FACT NUMBER 5: President Obama had a hard time during the presidential debates

Starting from March 2012, the president’s sentiment was decreasing significantly due to the upcoming elections and the first 2 presidential debates between him and Romney, this behavior was described by many political analysts as a decrease in Obama’s confidence in winning the second term.We may also notice that this behavior changed significantly
after the Third debate and over November 6, when he was re-
elected.


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