It statistically made no difference which way we analyzed it, or which method. It affected some scores and some of the ranks, but not the position of Donald Trump on that list. In each case, he ranked last of the past 15 presidents.
By every metric and methodology tested, Donald Trump’s vocabulary and grammatical structure is significantly more simple, and less diverse, than any President since Herbert Hoover, when measuring “off-script” words, that is, words far less likely to have been written in advance for the speaker.
Significant is not editorializing. The gap between Trump and the next closest president (in most indices, Harry Truman, known historically for a folksy, simple pattern of speech), is larger than any other gap using Flesch-Kincaid. Statistically speaking, there is a significant gap.
Using the same [model] used by the Department of Defense, the grade level on the equal sample is 4.6. That’s between a fourth and fifth grade level.
The next closest is Truman at 5.9, followed by Bush 41 at 6.7. The top three: Herbert Hoover (11.3), Jimmy Carter (10.7) and Barack Obama (9.7).
- Read the rest here: “Stable Genius” – Let’s Go to the Data [blog.factba.se]
- Trump speaks at fourth-grade level, lowest of last 15 U.S. presidents, new analysis finds [newsweek.com]
- Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level according to new analysis but linguists say it may make him more ‘authentic, relatable and trustworthy’ [dailymail.co.uk]
- Wired opinion: the way Trump talks in debates is contagious [wired.com]
- An earlier analysis from 2016, based on debate transcripts, also using Flesch-Kincaid, with similar results—”According to my analysis of language during the Republican debates, the language that Trump uses consistently registers at the fourth grade level. And it may be shifting the way his opponents speak, too.”