Cortico’s mission is to help foster a healthier public sphere. We’ve been developing technologies that give journalists new access to citizen voices in the cities and towns they cover. The goal: local journalism that better reflects the concerns, issues and stories of those communities.
One type of data we’re capturing is talk radio shows from across the country. We pull the audio from radio stations throughout the day and night, run automatic speech recognition and diarization, and save the shows as easily searchable transcripts.
Recently, with the midterm elections approaching, we began tuning our speech recognition software to ensure it picked up the names of all candidates running in every congressional election. As of Election Day, we had collected a month’s worth of talk radio conversations mentioning midterm candidates, from across the set of 162 stations that we currently track in 36 states plus the District of Columbia. This includes talk radio shows from across the ideological spectrum.
We counted the number of mentions of each candidate in the month-long corpus. We then identified the election-issue phrases (such as “gun safety” and “abortion”) most correlated with discussion of each candidate.
The list below shows the 25 most mentioned candidates. The far right-hand column shows the issue-related phrases most correlated with the mention of each candidate. For example, for the candidate mentioned more than any other during this period, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the top issue phrases in order of frequency were: 1) “immigration,” 2) “affirmative action”, 3) “open borders”.
“Immigration” was the most frequently mentioned issue phrase. It was among the top three issues for 76% of the most-mentioned candidates. If you include other phrases related to immigration such as “sanctuary cities” and “amnesty,” this rises to 92%.
In short, in American talk-radio discussions of the midterms over the last month, immigration loomed larger than any other topic.
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TX Senate (7,115 mentions)
MA Senate (7,004)
FL Senate (4,564)
VT Senate (3,917)
CA House District 43 (3,869)
Here are some important caveats about the data: