The Washington Post

The language of the State of the Union speech, in 1 amazing chart

No speech -- with the possible exception of an inaugural address -- is more labored over by a president and his senior staff than a State of the Union address. Given that, the words that a president uses in the SOTU matter, and are worth closer examination.

With the help of two linguists and the awesome WaPo developer Kennedy Elliott, we've produced this awesome chart that details how presidents over the past century-plus have expressed themselves in the State of the Union.

A few observations before we get to the chart:

* Talk of the environment peaked in the three decades between 1970 and 2000 -- and has barely been mentioned in the last decade or so.

* The word "Iraq" was never mentioned before George H.W. Bush's 1992 SOTU. He said it 15 times.

* The most times the word "God" has been  mentioned was 18 by Ronald Reagan in 1984

* "We" is used far more than "I".

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Chris Cillizza · January 28, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.