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I have had a couple of great radio chats with Paul Payack, the man who monitors the English language and predicts we'll hit a million words sometime soon. Now, on the eve of the election, Payack's  Global Language Monitor has revealed the "top ten things the presidential campaign’s political buzzwords reveal to us about the upcoming vote." He's been tracking the language of politics, and the usage of key words and phrases over the last 18 months, and reached these findings:  1.     The electorate appears to be more advanced in its thinking than either party (or platform).  Taken as a whole, their concerns center upon uncontrollable, cataclysmic events such as climate change, while raising taxes or cutting taxes are lesser (though still important) concerns. 2.     ‘Change’ is, without question, the top buzz word of this campaign.  Though change from what to what remains a good question.   Both candidates are benefitting from the mantra; however Obama holds a 3:2 edge over McCain in this regard.   3.     The second-most discussed term of the campaign barely surfaces in most media reports, and this is the combination of ‘Climate Change’ and/or ‘Global Warming.’ 4.     Terms in reference to various aspects of the global financial meltdown can be found throughout the list.  These include recession at No 4, Subprime at No. 7, and Wall Street Bailout at No. 19.  The phrase ‘Financial Meltdown’ itself has broken into the Top 20 in usage over the last month to No. 18. 5.     Experience (No. 5) counts -- epecially, if that experience can serve as a guide through the current series of cataclysmic events.  McCain edges Obama 4:3 in the experience category. But Obama is given significant credit as a quick (and judicious) study. 6.     Everyone is talking about race (No. 16) except, apparently, the electorate.  It is a Top 20 issue, but it’s nestled between Joe the Plumber and Obama’s smoking. 7.     Iraq is now a non-issue.  The Surge (No. 8) and its apparent success has apparently settled the argument, so it is no longer a question of victory or defeat.  Even Al Qaeda has lost its grip on the electorate, falling some 11 spots on the usage list two weeks. 8.     Palin (Nos. 14 and 21) is a ‘go-to’ subject for the media and campaigns alike, with both sides thinking they gain tremendous leverage in her disparagement or apotheosis.  9.     Tony Rezko (No. 23), Acorn (No. 24) and Jeremiah Wright (No. 26) are indeed issues, but are viewed as minor, settled or both for the Obama campaign. 10.  The word "aloof," as related to Obama, is no longer on the list.  At the end of the Primary season in June, it was No 14 and a major concern of the Obama campaign.  Obama has apparently overcome this sense of aloofness. The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum. The ranking of Top Election Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign and commentary follow.

 
Presidential Campaign PQI 11.2.08
Comment
Rank
  
1
Change 
Obama has a 3:2 Edge over McCain with Change
2
Climate Change
Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
3
Gasoline
Up 2 this week as prices fall
4
Recession
Does a global financial meltdown count as a recession?
5
Experience 
Down 2; McCain has 4:3 Edge Here
6
Obama Muslim 
A continued presence in Cyberspace
7
Subprime
How we got into this mess in the first place
8
Surge
One of the Top Words from '07 now taking a victory lap
9
"That one"
Has spurred the Obama base with 'I'm for That One' slogans
10
"Just Words" 
Oh Hillary, what hath thou wrought?
11
Gender
Up dramatically since fall campaign though down for week
12
Working Class Whites
Still the object of much affection AND derision
13
Price of oil
More discussion as price declines; up 5
14
Palin Swimsuit
On SNL Alec Baldwin claimed Balin's 'way hotter in person'
15
Joe the Plumber
Now making appearances with McCain; up 5
16
Racism (election)
Belies all the media buzz; now in top 20
17
Obama smoking
Down 5 but still in Top Twenty
18
Financial meltdown
Now buzzworthy, indeed.
19
Wall Street Bailout 
As reality of global financial meltdown sets in, down 6
20
Internet fundraising
Hangs in there as a hot buzzword at 20
21
Lipstick
Drops dramatically over the last survey; down 10
22
Raise taxes
Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
23
Rezko
Obama's relationship with Tony Rezko gains one
24
Acorn Voter Reg
Loses a couple as interest apparently wanes
25
Al Qaeda election
Lurking beneath the surface but falls out of Top Twenty
26
Jeremiah Wright 
Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling five more spots
27
Cut taxes
Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
28
Hockey Mom
Causes headlines but not a top issue
29
Nuclear Iran
Drops one more spot since last survey
30
Wash Talking Heads
Not a good week for the Cognoscenti; down 15

 

Back Tracks:

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency.

The Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

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