Quantifying what Republicans and Democrats talked about at the DNC and the RNC

references to china at the DNC and the RNC

We took the toughest, boldest, strongest, and hardest hitting action against China in American history by far.

President Trump, RNC Night 4

Donald Trump has had a love fest with dictators, including China and Russia. He hasn’t been standing up to them at all.

Rose G, DNC Night 3

I didn’t watch much of either the DNC or the RNC. But I wanted to see if I could use text analysis on the transcripts from the conventions to understand where the parties differ the most on communication strategy.

I would love for someone more deeply versed in how this sort of political event works to weigh in or do further analysis; email me at joe at this website or reach out on twitter and I’ll give you the data.

Where do the two parties differ most?

First, I looked at the phrases with the biggest difference in mention frequency between the two parties:

There are some interesting takeaways from this chart:

  • “Climate change” was mentioned nearly 40 more times at the DNC than the RNC
  • “Tax cuts” and “Foreign Policy” were the policy phrases disproportionately used at the RNC; the Post Office and Social Security came up more at the DNC
  • “Police officer” and “criminal justice” were mentioned more at the RNC, while George Floyd was mentioned more often at the DNC

There were a few topics that I wanted to examine more closely, so I broke out the mention frequency by the day of the convention.

References to China at the DNC and the RNC

I thought the discrepancy in references to China was fascinating. Between blaming China for the Coronavirus, highlighting Trump’s stances on trade with China and criticizing Biden’s history with the country, China came up way more often at the RNC than the DNC.

It seems like it will be a key campaign issue for Trump in the upcoming election.

Mention of the Police, Crime, and Riots at the DNC and the RNC

The RNC seemed to focus much more on police and crime, in what I view as a typical “law and order” strategy, aiming to stoke fear around the recent protests. The use of the word “riots” is especially indicative of that strategy.

References to Covid-19 at the DNC and the RNC

I was surprised at how even this was split between the two conventions. I expected Democrats to hammer Trump’s response to the virus and for Republicans to mostly ignore it. But it seems to have been a frequent topic at the RNC as well as the DNC.

References to Jobs, the Economy and Unemployment at the DNC and the RNC

This would have been completely unsurprising had the Coronavirus not upended the economy and labor markets. But it seems like Republicans are still using the economy & job growth as a pillar of their communications.

Mentions of Democracy and Voting at the the DNC and the RNC

I think the references to Democracy reflect the way many Democrats talk about the Trump presidency as a threat to democracy and the United States’ ideals.

References to Climate Change and the environment at the DNC and the RNC

This is a clear reflection of the parties’ priorities.

Use of the word “Crisis” at the DNC and RNC

I would expect this to be reversed if the Democrats held the presidency.

There’s a lot more analysis that could be done on this; if you’d like the underlying data or have any ideas email me at joe at this website or message me on twitter.


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