Is President Obama dumbing it down for the American people?
According to the Flesch-Kincaid test, which measures the readability of written text, the answer is “yup!”
University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog studied 70 State of the Union addresses since 1934 and found that Obama has three of the six lowest-scoring speeches. Tuesday’s speech
was written at an eighth-grade level.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is our most verbose president, with his speeches coming in at 30.3 words per sentence in 1934—a 12th-grade reading level.
Among presidents in the television era (after FDR), John F. Kennedy has the highest score. At 23.8 words per sentence, his State of the Union Address was also written at a 12th-grade level.
The simplest president (judging solely by words per sentence) was George H.W. Bush, whose 1992 speech came in at 15.8 words per sentence—just above a seventh-grade reading level.
For more on the study, click here