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What is the U.S. Senate saying about the #TrumpTapes?

Although it’s a little off our beaten path, as word nerds we can’t help but be curious about political speech during this election period. This year Textio has looked at both stump speeches and candidate staff job posts to see what insights would emerge. After all, Textio is built to find patterns in how people communicate, and what speech is more topical right now than the language surrounding the presidential campaign?

Graphic showing the percentage of senators who made a public statement about the Trump video within 72 hours of its release: Republicans 91%, Democrats + Independents 55%

It’s a rare occasion when politicians are all talking about the same thing at the same time, but over the last week, many politicians have been doing just that: responding to Donald Trump’s totally gross remarks about sexually assaulting women. Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Trump supporters and detractors — many have stepped up to condemn his remarks.

But we wondered: Are all those groups talking about it in the same way? Turns out they’re not.

For this analysis, Textio looked just at public responses (tweets or other statements) from members of the Senate in the 72 hours following the release of the Trump video. We wanted a contained data set to do apples-to-apples comparisons. Here’s what we found.

91% of Republican Senators made some kind of public statement.

But only 55% of Democratic and Independent Senators did.

This surprised us at first, but a number of Republicans needed to make statements given that several of them pulled their Trump endorsements as a result of the video.

33 Senators focused mostly on the election implications for Trump.

Although most of those Senators are not up for re-election themselves.

Almost half of the Senators who published a response took the opportunity to make a strong political statement about Trump’s suitability for office, including twelve who are up for re-election themselves (3 Democrats, 9 Republicans). For example, see the response from Illinois Republican Mark Kirk:

DJT is a malignant clown — unprepared and unfit to be president of the United States. @realDonaldTrump should drop out. @GOP should engage rules for emergency replacement. The party of Lincoln rejects Donald Trump. I stand with the calls for him to drop out. — Mark Kirk, R-IL

Graphic showing the percentage of senators whose statement on Trump's video was focused on election implications for the Republican ticket: Republicans 40%, Democrats + Independents 24%

And from the Democratic side, Nevada’s Harry Reid:

It is time for every Republican elected official in this county to revoke their endorsements of Donald Trump and state that they will not vote for their party’s nominee, who has been caught on tape bragging about routinely sexually assaulting women. There is no way to defend the indefensible. In the name of decency, Republicans should admit that this deviant — this sociopath — cannot be president.” — Harry Reid, D-NV

Some of the language sentiment is logical, and some is visceral.

Some of it also focuses on the impact on women.

Textio classified each response according to its sentiment (or sentiments—a single statement may include multiple sentiments). For instance, logical responses categorize Trump’s remarks as unacceptable, indefensible, or inappropriate. 24 of the statements contained logical sentiment, 14 from senators who are still endorsing Trump. Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran reacts:

The remarks made on that video were disrespectful and indefensible, and I trust that the apology for them was sincere. — Thad Cochran, R-MS

Graphic showing that, out of 73 Senators who made #TrumpTapes statements soon after they were released, 24 incorporated logical sentiment, 12 incorporated visceral sentiment, and 14 focused on the impact on women

By contrast, visceral responses describe his remarks as disgusting or vile—there were 12 statements of this type, evenly split between Trumper endorsers and opposers:

Let’s send a message this Nov. to our daughters & sons that Donald Trump’s values are not the values of our nation. Beyond vile and disgusting. — Barbara Boxer, D-CA

In addition, 14 of the responses focus on the impact of his words on women, using language like degrading or demeaning. Nine of these come from people who oppose Trump in both parties.

As a woman, a mother, and a grandmother to three young girls, I am deeply offended by Mr. Trump’s remarks, and there is no excuse for the disgusting and demeaning language. Women have worked hard to gain the dignity and respect we deserve. The appropriate next step may be for him to reexamine his candidacy. — Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV

Only 7 Senators labeled Trump’s behavior in terms of sexual assault.

And none of those are still endorsing Trump.

The 7 Senators who were willing to use sexual assault language when referring to Trump’s taped comments are evenly spread across parties and gender: 3 are Democrats and 4 are Republicans, while 4 are men and 3 are women. No one who still endorses Trump was willing to use sexual assault language.

I wanted to be able to support my party’s nominee, chosen by the people, because I feel strongly that we need a change in direction for our country. However, I’m a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women. I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence for president on Election Day. — Kelly Ayotte, R-NH

[He is] a candidate whose flaws are beyond mere moral shortcomings and who shows a disgust for American character and a disdain for dignity unbecoming of the presidency. I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women. — Cory Gardner, R-CO

Lastly, Republican statements were more likely to include their family.

They specifically referenced their wives, mothers, and daughters.

On the Republican side, 9 Senators made statements appealing to their own family relationships, but zero of the Democrats did. Many Senators in both parties talked about either protecting or respecting women in general.

As a husband, father of 3 daughters, and grandfather of two precious little girls, if I ever heard anyone speak this way about them, they would be shopping for a new set of teeth. — John Boozman, R-AZ

Inspired by my three wonderful teenage daughters, and my wise and gracious wife, I have tried to do everything in my authority… to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. We need national leaders who can lead by example on this critical issue. The reprehensible revelations about Donald Trump have shown that he can’t. — Dan Sullivan, R-AK

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