"Reform" has been used a total of 425 times by the politicians and political influencers that NPR is tracking.

Why We're Tracking This: Here's a word that blows hot and cold. It was all the rage when President Obama and his fellow Democrats said health care needed it. It's been used when talking about financial regulations as well. But one side's "reform" is the other side's "takeover" or "socialism."

Compare Usage of "reform" By...

days ago

Popular Overall With...

Dino Rossi (R)


  • Last 7 days: 0 uses (down 100% from last week)
  • Overall: 6 uses since Aug. 30

Rick Scott (R)


  • Last 7 days: 0 uses (down 100% from last week)
  • Overall: 12 uses since Aug. 30



  • Last 7 days: 8 uses (down 50% from last week)
  • Overall: 141 uses since Aug. 30



  • Last 7 days: 6 uses (down 79% from last week)
  • Overall: 183 uses since Aug. 30

'Sparkline' graphs plot each word's motion over the last 8 weeks.

Word To Watch: October 25, 2010


'Reform': The Buzzword For Everybody

October 25, 2010 With one week to go before Election Day, it's pretty clear that barring some huge surprise it will be "jobs", "deficit", "taxes" and other words related to the state of the economy that end up dominating the Fighting Words project.

But there are other ways to slice and dice our results, of course. One is to drill down a bit to see how different types of words are being used. And, when it comes to "buzzwords" that can be used in several ways, right now "reform" is leading in number of mentions.

How's it being deployed?

There are the I'm-a-real-reformer stylings of candidates such as Ted Strickland, the Democratic governor of Ohio. "Humbled to read this letter today," his campaign tweeted on Monday. "Our work to reform education crosses party lines."

Or maybe you prefer the approach of Illinois Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, who's running for governor in his state. "As a state representative and senator for 15 years, Brady has been talking about pensions reforms, Medicaid changes and regulatory relief long before starting his run for governor," the Brady campaign said Monday.

Candidates can also turn the word back on their opponents. "Word comes today that Fannie Mae and and Freddie Mac, the two 'government-sponsored entities' that not only played a big role in the mortgage meltdown but also contributed big bucks to Sen. Patty Murray, will get more taxpayer-funded bailouts in the future," says the GOP for Senate candidate in Washington, Dino Rossi. "Sen. Murray has been touting the so-called 'financial reform' bill she supported as a crackdown."

And they can just keep it simple. "I have the independence to fix our schools and make real reforms," says Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor in California.

Reform. Expect to hear a lot more about it before Election Day is over.

-- Mark Memmott

People Who Use This Word Often


Meg Whitman (R)

  • Week of Oct. 25:
    uses of "reform"
...Reform - I have the independence to fix our schools and make real reform s. Check out my new TV ad:

— via Facebook (October 19)


Jerry Brown (D)

  • Week of Oct. 25:
    uses of "reform"
In case you missed it, my plans for Jobs, Education, the Environment, Pension Reform and more can be found on my website (or on the Solutions tab of my Facebook profile).

— via Facebook (August 19)

Recent uses of "reform" this time. I'll guess you have a neighbor who is against higher taxes, a co-worker who wants school reform, a cousin who is put off by the Chicago Machine. Tell them what you already know. I will deliver...

Bill Brady, via Facebook (November 1)

...hasn't run scared, as so many Democrats have done this year. He's been forthright about his support of health-care reform and the economic stimulus, despite GOP attempts to demonize these issues. During the debate at Randolph College, he had...

Tom Perriello, via RSS (October 31)

...women who want abortions, or sick people who would lose their health care if he helped to repeal health-care reform.” (Philadelphia Daily News, 10/25/10) 

Philadelphia Inquirer - “Sestak has moderate, reasonable ideas for promoting clean energy and providing small...

Joe Sestak , via RSS (October 30)

...David Axelrod answered your questions about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” education, health reform, and more.

Tim Kaine (DNC), via Twitter (October 28)

...Because of health care reform, 4,500 seniors in the 5th district who hit the prescription coverage "donut hole" have automatically received checks to help...

Tom Perriello, via Facebook (October 28)

...Axelrod - David Axelrod answered your questions about ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the administration’s work on education, health reform, and more....

Tim Kaine (DNC), via Facebook (October 28)

About This Project

NPR is following key politicians on Facebook, Twitter and their websites to see what terms are gaining or losing traction on the campaign trail.

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