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Huge problem for Democrats in 2020: We really don't have anyone who speaks at a fourth-grade level

2 min read

I’m not exactly a fan of political pundit Chris Cillizza by anyone’s imagination, although his piece for CNN’s website about a recent interview Trump did for the Fox “News” Channel program gives you a general idea of Trump’s speaking style. This is one instance where I wish Cillizza had included a link to a full transcript, although this piece by Bill Frischling for a website that I’ve never heard of before contains an analysis of Trump’s speaking style, as well as a comparison of the speaking styles of every president since Herbert Hoover.

Long story short, Trump speaks at a 4th-grade level, with his speaking style scoring a 4.7 on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale, or, as Trump would probably call it, the Fujita scale of speaking. I round down the Flesch-Kincaid grade level score to the nearest whole number to describe “a(n) (ordinal number)-grade level” that a current or former POTUS speaks/spoke at. Not factoring in Trump’s vindictive, self-centered personality that is evident in pretty much every political speech he’s ever given (particularly speeches that he’s given without using a teleprompter), Trump’s speaking style is very simplistic, uses a limited vocabulary, and is at a grade level that is unusually low for a national head of government.

The fact that Trump speaks at a 4th-grade level is actually the biggest of Trump’s few political strengths, since I would guesstimate that the average American speaks at a similar grade level, and that makes it easier for someone like Trump to relate to Americans that are willing to vote for a far-right demagogue like Trump. A major problem that the Democratic Party is going to have when the 2020 presidential campaign goes into full swing is that there really isn’t a Democratic presidential candidate who speaks at a fourth-grade level. I don’t know if anyone has tried to analyze what grade level Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders speaks at, although, having heard speeches from both of them in the past, I would guess that they speak at a grade level that is not lower than 6th-grade, and I don’t think any of the other 2020 contenders on our side speak at a grade level lower than 8th-grade. I’m too young to run for president in 2020 (and I’d never consider running for president when I become old enough to run for president), although I would guess that I speak at a 5th-grade level, since I tend to speak in a more simplified manner than my writing style is.

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