Talking Trump: Exploring the use of Populist Rhetoric in Partisan Rallies

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Rice University

Presidential speeches have immense power to advocate for policy, influence public opinion, and portray an image of a president. While extensive literature exists studying presidential addresses until the Obama era, this body of work needs to be updated to include the Trump presidency. Donald Trump’s rhetorical strategies have become a spectre of public attention, and a complete anomaly when compared to his predecessors. Notably, his use of the partisan rally format suggests his unwillingness to present issues to a bipartisan format. This study compares Donald Trump’s rally speeches to a form of traditional address, his 2019 State of the Union Address. Specifically analyzing for instances if informative, evaluative, and action based statements, it was found that rally speeches contained significantly more evaluative statements than his bipartisan addresses. These findings are consistent with accepted theories of populism, and suggest that these rallies may be a part of a larger strategy to increase populist appeals among the Trump voting bloc. These results certainly hold critical implications when it comes to understanding both Donald Trump, and the prominent shift within the Republican Party.


Palladino, Lauren. "Talking Trump: Exploring the use of Populist Rhetoric in Partisan Rallies." (2020) Rice University:

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