As a further sign that the Mike Judge prophecy of Idiocracy is definitely upon us, The Washington Globe analyzed the speeches of all 19 presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in announcing their 2016 presidential election campaigns. To do so, they used the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, a popular algorithm that determines grade school reading levels by examining word length and sentence structure.
And their findings were clear: Donald Trump, who is leading the pack among Republican candidates, is by far the least articulate candidate, coming in dead last with a whopping fourth grade reading level.
By every criteria in the algorithm, Trump is speaking at the lowest level. He used fewer characters per word in his announcement speech, fewer syllables per word, and his sentences were shorter than all of the other candidates.
His vocabulary is filled with words like “huge,” “terrible,” “beautiful.” He speaks in punchy bursts that lack nuance. It’s all easily grasped, whether it’s his campaign theme (“Make America Great Again”), words about his wealth (“I’m really rich”), or his disparagement of the Washington culture (“Politicians are all talk, no action”).
Trump is closely followed, both in the polls and reading level by Ben Carson, who ranks at just a sixth grade level, despite actually being a brain surgeon with an advanced medical degree. On the other end of the Republican spectrum, Jim Gilmore and Mike Huckabee, of all people, lead with a 10th grade level. Likewise, Bernie Sanders’ speeches also received a 10th grade level, while Hillary Clinton came in at a respectable eighth grade.
Still, the message is overwhelmingly clear: Voters prefer candidates who, for words, are not so good. At the rate we’re going, by the time of the 2052 election, the presidential debates will be boiled down to a system of grunts and throat clearing.
(Via The Washington Globe)