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AVAILABLE EXPERT – CNN Republican Primary Debate

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Queen's University professor David Skillicorn will be available to comment on the CNN Republican Primary Debate, taking place on Wednesday, September 16. 

David Skillicorn is a professor of computing at Queen's University. He analyzed deception in political speeches during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign and has spoken previously on the topic of computer analysis of political debates to determine truthfulness and the effectiveness of candidates in conveying their message.

"Looking at US presidential elections through the lens of empirical investigation of word use shows that there's a pattern of language that is associated with electoral success. Those who use it win, and the difference in the intensity of the pattern correlates well with the margin of victory.

"The effective pattern is, in a way, intuitive: use positive language, eliminate negative language completely, talk in the abstract rather than about specific policies, and pay no attention to the other candidates.In other words, a successful candidate should appear "statesmanlike". Candidates find it extremely difficult to use this approach -- they feel compelled to compare themselves to the other candidates, dragging in negativity, and to explain the cleverness of their policies. Only incumbent presidents, in our investigation, were able to use this language pattern reliably. Of course, the Canadian system isn't presidential. But all of the parties like to imagine that it is, putting substantial resources into publicity for party leaders, and focusing attention on party leader debates."

Professor Skillicorn will be available for pre-debate commentary, as well as post-debate analysis.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston with HD-SDI. Please call for details.

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