The Republican Debate in 11 Words
Published September 17, 2015

The raucous second debate among the top 11 GOP hopefuls kept some candidates on message and drove others on tangents destined for cable news reels. Below is the word that most identifies each candidate’s entire discourse over the course of the night, using established methods for determining which words are most meaningful among a sea of platitudes.


To gather a baseline of language that Republican candidates favor, TIME looked at the frequency of each word in last night’s debate, the previous 2015 debate, and 11 debates from the 2012 presidential cycle. Then we looked at each candidate’s responses from Thursday’s debate and identified words that he used much more frequently than other GOP candidates past and present. A small amount of editorial discretion was used to pick the word that best captured a candidate’s performance using this sort of analysis.

All photographs from Associated Press.