What words are gubernatorial candidates using most?

AP Photos

(Top, from left) Democrats Martha Coakley, Don Berwick, and Steve Grossman. (Bottom) Republicans Mark Fisher and Charlie Baker.

By Globe Staff 

Words matter. That’s something politicians understand better than most. During a campaign, every statement is scoured for secret significance and every utterance held up as a potential gaffe.

So what words are the 2014 gubernatorial candidates using most? Let’s start with a game. Can you match each candidate with the word they use most frequently in the “issues” section of their campaign website?

Got any more words?


The tag clouds below include the 25 most commonly used words in each candidate’s “issues” materials. The more common a word is, the larger it appears. Looking across these word clouds helps shed light on the differences between candidates by showing us how they think and talk about various issues.

Democratic candidates

Don Berwick

Most frequently used word: Health

Notable patterns: No candidate’s top word is more issue-driven than Berwick’s. When he talks about “health,” it’s not healthy communities or a healthy economy but the health care system and the virtue of single-payer health care.

Martha Coakley

Most frequently used word: Workers

Notable patterns: Coakley doesn’t just talk about workers when she’s discussing the economy. They’re also in her immigration platform, her discussion of civil rights, and her proposal for transportation.

Steve Grossman


Most frequently used word: Business

Notable patterns: Sometimes Grossman uses the term “business” to refer to his own business experience. But he also talks a lot about the relationship between business and govenrment, as when he would “CHALLENGE the business community to partner with the state and help create 5,000 new paid internships.”

Republican candidates

Charlie Baker

Most frequently used word: Families

Notable patterns: Baker and Fisher are the only candidates to regularly use the word “tax,” generally in sentences like “Charlie will not raise taxes, period.”

Mark Fisher

Most frequently used word: Government

Notable patterns: Fisher’s stern opposition to illegal immigration is not only reflected in his consistent use of the terms “immigration” and “laws” but also his preference for “citizens,” rather than “residents” or “people.”

Governor Deval Patrick


Just for context, here’s what you get if you apply the same approach to Governor Patrick’s 2014 State of the Commonwealth address.

Most frequently used word: Work

Notable patterns: The word that most distinguishes Patrick from this year’s candidates is “together.” He uses it in a way that none of the active candidates has picked up, as when he says: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have journeyed a long way together these last many years, over ground both smooth and rough, along paths both expected and unexpected.

Word clouds generated at They exclude common words like “it” and “the” along with “Massachusetts,” “Commonwealth,” and “state.”

Evan Horowitz digs through data to find information that illuminates the policy issues facing Massachusetts and the United States He can be reached at
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