The 2023 USA State of the Union speech contrasted with the 2022 speech, via word clouds

Ray Poynter
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Ray Poynter

3 mins

Each year the President of the United States makes a State of the Union speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. This year’s speech was made by President Joe Biden on 7 February.

In this post, I will use Word Cloud Plus to highlight the differences between President Biden’s 2022 and 2023 speeches. Note, I will not be assessing the validity of the content, I am just reporting on what was said.

The image below shows a word cloud created from the 2023 speech. The key message “finish the job” jumps off the page, it was a refrain President Biden employed several times, for example, “let’s finish the job by providing access to pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds” and “let’s finish the job and close the loopholes that allow the very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes”.

Word Cloud from the 2023 USA State of the Union speech

To get a sense of what has changed, let’s look at the image below, which shows a word cloud from President Biden’s 2022 speech.

Word Cloud from the 2023 USA State of the Union speech

The 2022 speech has elements that we don’t see in the 2023 speech. In 2022 we see references to the Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan – the 2023 cloud is much more USA-centric. The 2022 cloud also has more notes about the future, such as “that’s why it is so important to pass the bipartisan innovation act sitting in congress” and “my plan would cut the cost in half for most families and help parents”. In 2023, the tone is about ‘finishing the job”, i.e. building on what has been done, for example, “the inflation reduction act that i signed into law”.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the 2022 and 2023 word clouds are the appearance in 2023 of references to the Democrats (6 references) and the Republicans (5 references). The speech contains several references to bipartisan acts, for example “i sincerely thank my republican friends who voted for the law” and “I went there last month with Democrats and Republicans from both states to deliver $1.6 billion for this project.”, but also contains rebukes, for example “and to my republican friends who voted against it but still ask to fund projects in their districts”.

The 2023 speech is also stronger in terms of its attacks on bad practices by some businesses, for example “pass the junk fee prevention act so companies stop ripping us off” and “and i will pay for the ideas i’ve talked about tonight by making the wealthy and big corporations begin to pay their fair share”.

In summary
In terms of what the President says, we can see a clear shift from 2022 (when he was early in his Presidency and his party had a majority in both Houses of Congress) to 2023, where he has had more time in office but now faces a House of Representatives with a Republican majority. The report he delivered in 2023 is less global (despite the war in the Ukraine and concerns about China), it recognizes the roles of both parties, and it seeks to target those people and those companies who the President says are not paying their fair share.

Try it yourself for Free!
If you are interested in this sort of approach, you can use Word Cloud Plus for free and you can grab copies of the State of the Union speeches from the Internet.