Data Science and the Language of Politics

As the nation’s presidential election cycle heats up, we’re bombarded with a glut of ads, radio and TV commercials, emails, and direct mail solicitations, all imploring us to vote for one candidate or another and, even more urgently, to give, give, give donations to their campaigns. With the political season in full swing, I am struck by the use of polls and focus groups to test and refine messages from the candidates – it’s a slow and labor intensive process that relies heavily on the imprecision of human judgment. In an age of social media and digital communications, the selection of language and messaging seems a decade behind. While politicians of every stripe stake out their positions and hope that they can convince a sufficient number of voters to take them…

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