Eight Years of the Republican Weekly Address

We looked at eight years of the Republican Weekly Address by Jesse Rifkin.

From the post:

Every week since Ronald Reagan started the tradition in 1982, the president delivers a weekly address. And every week, the opposition party delivers an address as well.

What can the Weekly Republican Addresses during the Obama era reveal about how the GOP has attempted to portray themselves to the American public, by the public policy topics they discussed and the speakers they featured? To find out, GovTrack Insider analyzed all 407 Weekly Republican Addresses for which we could find data during the Obama era, the first such analysis of the weekly addresses as best we can tell. (See the full list of weekly addresses here.)

Sometimes they discuss the same topic as the president’s weekly address — particularly common if a noteworthy event occurs in the news that week — although other times it’s on an unrelated topic of the party’s choosing. It also features a rotating cast of Republicans delivering the speech, most of them congressional, unlike the White House which has almost always featured President Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden occasionally subbing in.

On the issues, we found that Republicans have almost entirely refrained from discussing such inflammatory social issues as abortion, guns, or same-sex marriage in their weekly addresses, despite how animating such issues are to their base. They also were remarkably silent on Donald Trump until the week before the election.

We also find that while Republicans often get slammed on women’s rights and minority issues, Republican congressional women and African Americans are at least proportionally represented in the weekly addresses, compared to their proportions in Congress, if not slightly over-represented — but Hispanics are notably under-represented.

You have seen credible claims of On Predicting Social Unrest Using Social Media by Rostyslav Korolov, et al., and less credible claims from others, CIA claims it can predict some social unrest up to 5 days ahead.

Rumor has it that the CIA has a Word template named, appropriately enough: theRussiansDidIt. I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor.

Taking credible actors at their word, are you aware of any parallel research on weekly addresses by Congress and following congressional action?

A very lite skimming of the literature on predicting Supreme Court decisions comes up with: Competing Approaches to Predicting Supreme Court Decision Making by Andrew D. Martin, Kevin M. Quinn, Theodore W. Ruger, and Pauline T. Kim (2004), Algorithm predicts US Supreme Court decisions 70% of time by David Kravets (2014), Fantasy Scotus (a Supreme Court fantasy league with cash prizes).

Congressional voting has been studied as well, for instance, Predicting Congressional Voting – Social Identification Trumps Party. (Now there’s an unfortunate headline for searchers.)

Congressional votes are important but so is the progress of bills, the order in which issues are addressed, etc., and it the reflection of those less formal aspects in weekly addresses from congress that could be interesting.

The weekly speeches may be as divorced from any shared reality as comments inserted in the Congressional Record. On the other hand, a partially successful model, other than the timing of donations, may be possible.

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