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Change You Can See (in a Word Cloud)

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I hope the folks at the Pew Research Center don't mind if we borrow their graphic, but it demonstrates clever use of an easily coded open-ended question** ("What ONE WORD best describes your impression of Barack Obama?") combined with the elegance of a word cloud graphic. The top cloud is based on a survey conducted in early February 2009, the bottom on a survey conducted during September 2008. You can read more about the results of these questions here (summary of the survey here), but in this case, the picture conveys the most powerful finding all by itself.

20090312_PewObamaCloud.jpg

**For those unfamiliar with the term, "open-ended" means the interviewer asks the respondent to answer in their own words (or in this case, with a single word). On a "closed-ended" question, the respondent would choose from a list of answer categories.