The Teleprompter Presidency: Comparing Obama's Campaign and Governing Rhetoric

Jeremiah Olson, Yu Ouyang, John Poe, Austin Trantham, Richard W. Waterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: Are the skills presidents require to be elected the same skills they will need once they assume office? Is there a change in rhetoric between presidential campaigning and presidential governing? The objective of this article is to examine those questions. Methods: We compare candidate Barack Obama's campaign speeches with his governing speeches to determine if his rhetoric on the campaign trail provides the basis for his later governance. We compare speeches on certainty, positivity, and inclusiveness. Results: We find that, in general, Obama's campaign and governing rhetoric are consistent, suggesting that he used the rhetoric of the campaign to help build a basis for governance. We find no statistical difference in the level of certainty or inclusiveness that he used before or after taking office. Conclusions: We conclude that most differences between presidential campaign rhetoric and governing rhetoric, at least in the case of Barack Obama, seem to be caused by the specifics of the political environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1423
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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