February 9, 2009

From Candidate to President

In the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (a national survey of 1,303 adults reached on landlines and cell phones) Americans were asked what one word best describes their impression of President Barack Obama.

Responses were tallied to show which words were most commonly associated with the president. (Figures shown are actual numbers of respondents not percentages.)

A similar question was asked of then-candidate Barack Obama in September 2008.

The public’s impression of Obama has changed substantially since the fall. More Americans are now using words such as intelligent (the most frequently used one-word descriptor), honest, confident and smart, and fewer are using words like inexperienced, young, new and change — though, while fewer people use change, it still remains the second-most popular descriptor. Back in September, the most frequently used Obama descriptor was inexperienced, which has fallen to fifth place  on the descriptor list.

To illustrate impressions of President Obama versus then-candidate Obama, responses were entered into Wordle, a website that generates “word clouds” from text provided by the user. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Therefore, the largest word on candidate Obama’s cloud is “inexperienced,” while “intelligent” is the largest word for President Obama

Other descriptive words are sized based on the frequency with which they were mentioned in regard to Obama.

President Barack Obama — February 2009

Candidate Barack Obama — September 2008

Related: The Candidates: In a Word, September 25, 2008