Top Things Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote

Top 10 Things Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote

Austin, TX, USA November 3, 2008 – In an analysis completed just 48 hours before the US Presidential Elections theGlobal Language Monitor has announced the final installment of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign. 

GLM, has been tracking the buzzwords in this election cycle for some eighteen months.  Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word. 

For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.

The top findings follow, with the Top 30 Buzzwords following. 

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of Global Language Monitor: 


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 the global financial meltdown and climate change (Nos. 1 and 2), while raising taxes (No. 22) or cutting taxes (No. 27) are lesser (though still important) concerns.  

2.  The phrase ‘Financial Meltdown’ has broken into the Top 20, jumping some 2600% in usage over the last month.

3.   Change is the topmost concern.  Though change from what to what remains a good question.   ‘Change’ is,without question the top word of this campaign.  Both candidates are benefitting from the mantra; however Obama holds a 3:2 edge over McCain in this regard. 

4.   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’. 

5.   Experience (No. 5) counts.  A lot. Especially, 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 Twenty issue, but it’s nestled between Joe the Plumber and Obama’s smoking. 

7.   Iraq is now a non-issue.  No. 8, Surge,and its apparent success has 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 in 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 of Top Election Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign and commentary follow.


  Presidential Campaign PQI 11.2.08 Comment
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


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.  Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.  


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!

Leave a Reply