This graphic compares three things: total words spoken, words per response, and use of "I" vs. "we."

Romney wins the word count …

… but he manages to spread these words over more responses.

Romney also uses "I" where Obama uses "we"--which may or may not affect public perception, but is a neat, differing tactic.

Infographic: How Romney Crushed Obama In The First Debate

Mitt sticks and moves, while Obama swings slow and hard.

Most have decided that the first debate was a loss for Obama. Personally, I found the whole format rather unwatchable. But with the help of a little data analysis (and one pretty infographic), there’s a lot we can learn about the two candidates’ disparate debate strategies—and maybe even why things worked out so much better for Romney.

In this infographic by Boxplot studios, we see three simple but revealing data points: total words spoken, words per statement, and use of the words “I” and “we.”

Click to enlarge.

First off, we see that Romney simply said more words—just 500 more, you may say—but that’s still about twice the length of the Gettysburg Address. Romney also spread out his words more evenly. In graphic form, Romney’s short red bars looks like he’s bobbing and weaving, sticking and moving, while Obama swings the occasional long blue roundhouse like a lumbering old heavyweight. Romney simply got in far more statements than Obama, and found ways to interject on more points while speaking for shorter amounts of time. Many critics of the President’s performance thought his contemplative silences made him appear detached, but as the numbers show, no one could make such a claim about Romney.

The third big piece of data here, though, is tougher to parse. Romney said the word “I” far more than Obama, who instead preferred the word “we.” In fact, Obama used the word “we” about twice as much as “I.”

Was one approach advantageous? It’s tough to say. But it certainly reveals a bit more about each candidate’s strategy. Romney went into the debate selling himself, advertising things he would do as president in the first-person. Obama preferred "we," perhaps in an effort to entrench himself and his policies with the American public. This was emphasized when the President would aim his gaze right at the camera, speaking to Americans as a fellow American, just as he might in a YouTube address.

Now, what will be interesting is how this graphic looks after the next debate. If I was a betting man, I’d place all my chips on Obama interjecting every bit as much as the next moderator will allow. We’ll see a lot more short answers from Obama, and hopefully, the debate will actually be more of a debate, and less of a series of speeches, as a result.

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20 Comments

  • EZ

    Does it bother anyone  else that at the end of every Obama commercial aired in California, he asks for you to text him $10 towards his campaign.?! And man when did democrats become so damn hate filled.?? I don't even like to engage in political talks because some how the democrats have turned crazy and want you dead if you have anything but the highest praise for Obama. Every one of these little web articles I've read has about 99% of the reply posts left obviously by lefties and almost every one of the comments is something loosely related to " you're a F*cking moron if you vote for anyone but obama", or "republicans are all rich heartless liars". Hey guess what, all politicians are rich and will lie straight to your face to tell you what they think you wanna hear to get your support and then not deliver on their "promises". Obama promised change, and for sure America has changed in the last four years. Now if he could have only made this country change for the better, than I could support him.!

  • Luke Rodgers Design

    I don't understand. I have always believed that it's better for politicians to use 'we' not 'I' to suggest we're in struggles together and they work with the people not for themselves. Furthermore this infographic shows that Obama times his speeches, and he covers everything he wants to say. Romney says something to probe a response. 1, 2, 3, 4 times and then Obama steps in and sweeps the floor, leaving Romney with no comeback . That's what the infographic is showing. Mark Wilson, I don't know if you're looking at a different infographic to me, but the DOES NOT show how Romney 'crushed' Obama. Your recent Apple article saying that the iPod and the Earpods are overly well designed annoyed me too. That's just ridiculous. Cliff Kuang has set the bar high for articles on this site. This has been a bad week for you. Start thinking and researching for things outside the box.

  • JN

    Watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... and you can see how Romney was just lied to the public on national television.  Romney does not stand for any position or principle.   He say one thing to one group and then change the next day with another group.  Sorry - only fools would trust a guy like that.

  • J Tesch

    Fun watching all the liberals crawl out to breathe fire on anyone who dares imply Obama did something less than perfectly or that his opponent(s) are in any way reputable or competent. :)

  • JN

    Actually - This you tube video can prove that Romney just lie to your face on national television.  The debate is not about who win the debate but it is about what the candidate's stand for and what people can count on.   

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... 

    For Romney, he sold his followers one thing and then the next day turn a 180 degree on the same thing for the different group. 

  • Bigdesk

    One data point not in the graphics. Obama spoke FOUR MINUTES MORE than Romney. They have very different speech patterns. Obama is more plodding and professorial ( "let me explain this to you 'cause you don't know"). Romney —either by training or experience—speaks in shorter thoughts. Make a point. Make the next point. The best bosses and clients I've had were more like Romney in that regard. That doesn't always answer all my questions, but it is up to me to ask for more info I may want—or go to their (either candidate's) web site to find a more detailed laying out of their plans ...if they have any. With both men there is a record of what they have accomplished (or not.)

  • Pamela Wolfe

    I / WE doesn't matter? How do you feel when somebody says 'I'--claiming ownership when they are referring to YOUR work?

    There are 2 I's in 'politics' and that makes a 'WE'!

    Seriously, no one accomplishes anything in politics by themselves.

    That's why the Constitution starts off 'We, the people,' not 'I, the president.'

  • CW

    Come on, Co.design. A 3 point infographic. Not a lot there, and still it's pretty slanted. Serving up 3 other data sets from the transcripts could slant it the other way. The author of the infographic has too much control over the perceived results for this to be useful or insightful. Pretty pointless post.

  • $487483

    It's clear that Obama was forced to argue with a dishonorable opponent and was not allowed to challenge him to a duel where he'd have a shot a real person and not a corporate jelloid. I think he chose the honorable course knowing it was not his last shot and the walls would close around his target after the shock wore off next time.

  • Thomas

    Is the American public so daft that they would consider a "debate" being won by yammering on about nothing relevant? Vague promises, falsehoods and greasy smiles makes for great leadership in America, I suppose. Debates should require facts, otherwise all these will ever be are informercials and sales pitches.

  • Jonathan

    Its interesting that Romney was able to say more, even though Obama had a full 4 minutes more talking time.

  • Mark Rojas

    Not a lot of meat on this bone. did it warrant this large graphic treatment? 

  • Benjamin Rogers

    Agreed. This is a really pointless "analysis". Of course Obama is going to say "we" more and Romney will say "I" more... Obama is the current administration and refers to performance that has been done (we created ______; we saved ______)... and Romney will be pressing for "change" by introducing new ideas (I will ______; I would _____). Sigh.

  • JN

    It actually show Romney is more about himself than about a collective - We, the people.  

  • Tim


    Exactly.   But this kind of nonsense is expected by this President's followers. Some person was so shaken by what they saw on TV, they decided to spend a couple days counting words and designing an infographic...something simple minds and "anything is news" media can latch onto.

    "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." - Socrates

  • bar

    So let's sum up, to "crush" your political opponent in the US, one should be an egoist and shoot for quantity over quality?

    Are you kidding me? This was the most ridiculous analysis I've ever seen. You should really just stick to watching NFL and E!.