Speed Reads

Why do you have to go and make things so complicated

Donald Trump's speeches are at a fourth-grade level, study finds

The secret to a successful presidential campaign might lie on the simplicity of speech. Case in point: Donald Trump. Trump has been leading in the polls for months now and, according to a Flesch-Kincaid readability test that ranks speech by grade level, he's been making speeches at a fourth-grade level. The two candidates speaking at the highest grade levels — Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore — are struggling in the polls. The Boston Globe reports:

The Republican candidates — like Trump — who are speaking at a level easily understood by people at the lower end of the education spectrum are outperforming their highfalutin opponents in the polls. Simpler language resonates with a broader swath of voters in an era of 140-character Twitter tweets and 10-second television sound bites, say specialists on political speech. [The Boston Globe]

Democrats are also speaking simplistically — though they haven't dumbed down their speeches as much as Trump has. The Globe reports that Hillary Clinton speaks at an eighth-grade level, as do Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is one of the candidates speaking at the highest level, with his speeches coming in at a tenth-grade reading level.

But even 2016's highest level speakers fall far short of their political predecessors in terms of complexity of speech and rhetorical flourishes. While this election's highest level of speech is roughly tenth grade, back in 1796, for instance, George Washington was speaking at graduate-degree levels — grade 17.9 to be exact. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was at an eleventh-grade level.

Read the full story over at The Boston Globe.