President Barack Obama at his 2011 State of the Union Address. Photo by Pete Souza.
President Barack Obama at his 2011 State of the Union Address. Photo by Pete Souza.

Did you know that President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union in 2009 had a swing of positive and negative sentiment that was similar to former President John Adams’ State of the Union in 1798? Or that the keywords used in Obama’s first State of the Union match closest to the 1992 address of former President George H.W. Bush?

“We have deconstructed every sentence in every State of the Union Address to analyze and summarize their common and unique themes.”

That’s according to Trajectory, a Marblehead, Mass.-based tech startup that has done a deep analysis of all 93 State of the Union addresses—which doesn’t include President Obama’s final address Tuesday night—that have been given since 1790 using the startup’s proprietary natural language processing system. To commemorate President Obama’s last State of the Union address and to show off the technology it uses to recommend books on its website, the startup has launched an ebook and an interactive webpage dedicated to State of the Union analysis.

“We have deconstructed every sentence in every State of the Union Address to analyze and summarize their common and unique themes,” Jim Bryant, Trajectory’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We have compared each speech to all of the others to identify the closest matches and we have summarized each speech by identifying the unique use of language and sentiment.”

Trajectory’s analysis looked at the words, language, content, mood, and sentiment of each State of the Union, which the startup said gave it the ability to make in-depth comparisons of each president and their political perspectives.

Trajectory's State of the Union Address Keyword App finds the most commonly used keywords used in each State of the Union and compares them to other addresses.
Trajectory’s State of the Union Address Keyword App finds the most commonly used keywords used in each State of the Union and compares them to other addresses.

“When we compared President Obama’s speech in 2015 looking for the closest sentiment or feel match, we were surprised to discover that the address most similar in thought, attitude and opinion was Presidents Grant in 1870,” Scott Beatty, Trajectory’s co-founder and chief content officer, said. “Another pattern we discovered was the similarity of the first addresses from John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Ronald Reagan’s 1982 State of the Union.”

While Trajectory’s ebook costs $20, its interactive State of the Union webpage is free to use, giving people an opportunity to compare the sentiment and keywords of each State of the Union addresses with others. The startup also has a Trajectory Index that crunched all of the speeches together to create some interesting statistics. For instance:

  • The average sentence length of all speeches is about 30 words.
  • The average character length for words in all speeches is 4.73 characters.
  • The total number of people mentioned in all speeches is 1,135.
  • The total number of words in all speeches is 1,631,219.
  • The total number of SAT words in all speeches is 2,821.
  • The percentage of words that are adverbs in all speeches is 4.2 percent.

Trajectory was founded by Bryant and Beatty in 2012, and it currently has more than 20 employees.

Trajectory's State of the Union Address Sentiment App compares the sentiment curve of different State of the Unions for each president.
Trajectory’s State of the Union Address Sentiment App compares the sentiment curve of different State of the Unions for each president.