Do Campaign Speeches Predict Foreign Policy? An Operational Code and Leadership Trait Analysis of Donald Trump’s MENA Policies

Author ORCID Identifier

Michael Young: 0000-0002-3032-1759

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-24-2023




This article investigates whether campaign speeches during the US presidential elections can help predict foreign policy behavior. We use speeches made by Donald J. Trump during his bid for president in 2016. We compare the analysis from 2016 with his actual foreign policy decisions during his tenure, 2017-2020. Operational code analysis and leadership traits analysis approaches are used to analyze candidate Trump’s foreign policy beliefs and strategies associated with them. We use Profiler Plus software to conduct content analysis which produces OCA and LTA results. We use three separate datasets to analyze Trump’s beliefs and traits focusing on his general foreign policy speeches, the MENA region, and a third one only about Islamic State and Syria. Our results show that Trump’s profile indicates a foreign policy orientation that avoids involvement in affairs that are perceived as beyond immediate interests. The consistency between his beliefs and traits during the 2016 campaign and his actual foreign policy behavior leads us to conclude that individual level analysis, and specifically OCA and LTA approaches, are useful tools to analyze, explain and predict foreign policy.



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