Carnegie Mellon University has taken on the task of putting presidents and political figures’ language to the test with the academic paper “A Readability Analysis of Campaign Speeches From the 2016 US Presidential Campaign.”
Ranking from a first grade reading level to a 12th grade reading level, the study analyzes stump speeches and their readability. The findings included conclusions stating that “most candidates using words and grammar typical of students in grades 6-8, though Donald Trump tends to lag behind others.”
Maxine Eskenazi, a scientist in Carnegie Mellon’s Language Technologies Institute explains, “It is based on the observation that some words (and grammatical structures) appear with greater frequency at one grade level than another.”
Documents analyzed included speeches from candidates Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Trump, ranging from their declarations of candidacy and victory and defeat speeches alike.
The chart below shows comparisons made categorically in vocabulary (how often figures change their choice of words) and grammatical (how well they use them).