Ad words: Welfare, jobs and togetherness take center stage in gubernatorial plugs

Last time we took a look at the language gubernatorial candidates are using to win your vote, there were about 10 ads from all the candidates.

Well, a month later and two weeks out from the election, we’ve got another 10 to throw in the mix. It’s clear that candidates have not much altered their messages but amplified them.And you can expect them to get much louder in the next two weeks.

Adding in the latest batch of ads — 20 total — it’s clear all have boosted focus on the economy and jobs. And Democrat Mike Michaud’s campaign has put more attention on Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Here’s a walkthrough of various looks at the latest campaign language with more commentary below.

In panel 1 you can see the recurring themes and perspectives each candidate’s campaign wants to hammer home with its television ads. Each candidate, predictably, uses some mix of “I” along with their name and the word “Governor,” but none as much as LePage, who has consistently used the bully pulpit to make the claim that his actions speak louder than words. Welfare remained a oft-referenced topic in his ads. Michaud has criticized LePage for focus on what he said is a divisive issue. In that vein, the Democrat’s ads have deployed the words “together” and “can” more than his opponents. Independent Eliot Cutler has increased focus on the economy in his recent ads, using “jobs” more than his opponents.

In panel 2 you can get an immersive experience of all the candidates’ ads by viewing their collective cloud of words and then using the slider to view a word cloud for each candidate.

In panel 3 you can see the most oft-used phrases of the campaign, broken down by who said them the most. Here, you can get a sense for how often the candidates are going on the offensive. Gov. LePage’s ads continued to use his name most often. Michaud’s ads referred to the governor about half as many times as they refer to Michaud. Neither the Democrat or Republican have mentioned independent Eliot Cutler in their ads.

In panel 4 I’ve just had a little fun (broadly defined) with all that transcribing and taken a look at who’s able to put the most words into 30 second spots and what the average word length is for each candidate across all ads. And if you’d like to see for yourself, you can click on sections of the top bar chart to watch the ad on YouTube.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.