Do Progressive and Conservative Leaders Talk About Migrants Differently?

A while back I wrote an R Script to scrape all speeches, interviews, and talks by all Australian Prime Ministers from the government’s official PM Transcripts site. I have been using these data on a project to test aspects of Moral Foundations theory. Recently I came across a great blog post on text mining from Julia Silge on a technique to identify unique word usage by group. This approach allows us to look at how a group uses particular words while accounting for the fact that some groups might talk more than others.

This got me thinking: could I use this approach to gain insight into how the conservative/centre right (Liberal) and progressive/centre left (Labor) leaders (from the 1940s to 2015) talk about migrants? This might provide some insight into how leaders think about migrants or, more likely, what they think their base thinks about migrants. I am at the beginning of this project but what I have found so far is interesting. Below is a graph of the 10 most uniquely used words that a Prime Minister of a given party uses near the word migrant, immigrant or refugee. Put simply, the words each party uniquely associate with the word migrant. All analysis was done on words that had been stemmed. Hence ‘educ’ captures the words education, educate, and educated. I will leave the interpretation of this plot up to you.

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