When composing articles, journalists have to consider a lot more than just the facts and figures that defend their stories. They have to keep reader grade level – a scale of years of education the reader may have mastered – in mind, too. The number of syllables in words, for example, and the number of words in a sentence.
That’s why many writers use the Flesch-Kincaid reading level test on their articles before submitting them. General news stories are supposed to score in the eighth-to-tenth grade range in order to be sure they can be read by most people, while sports articles can delve down to sixth because of the wider age-range of appeal of that subject. News on financial topics can be 10th-to-college, if only because of the multisyllabic words used in that field. Politics, though, can be kind of a mix, usually falling between seventh and 11th due to varying complexities of its topics.
Somebody needs to tip off most of today’s presidential candidates about this reading level concept, however. The speeches of many of them are scoring low in grade-level readability. And none of them score as low as Donald Trump’s, which dwell in the fourth-grade basement.
According to Flesch-Kincaid analyses recently done by The Boston Globe, Trump’s announcement speech scored in the elementary level of 4.1 school years. That was the lowest of all 19 presidential candidates included in the study.
Joining Trump in that below-seventh-grade score were John Kasich (4.7), Ben Carson (5.9), Rick Santorum (6.2), and Lindsey Graham (6.7). Republican candidates Jim Gilmore (10.5) and Mike Huckabee (10.3) lead all the presidential candidates in Flesch-Kincaid scores, while all the Democratic candidates fall into the seventh-to-11th range recommended for politics. Bernie Sanders’ announcement scored 10.1, Lincoln Chafee’s had an 8.5 level, and Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton tied at 7.7 school years in scoring of their addresses.
So if Trump’s speech scored so low, why is he leading the polls of Republican candidates? Well, that’s because his supporters are dumb, too.
Really. Honestly. Half of the Troupe of Trump Fans only have a high school education or less. That’s notably below the average of most Republican voters, Real Clear Politics noted in its analysis. And The Donald is retaining The Dumb-alds by synching with their intellect, apparently. Consider the nonsensical and monosyllabic gems he’s issued so far, like these:
I have so many websites. I have them all over the place. I hire people … it costs me three dollars.
Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there.
Negotiating with China – they say, ‘We want deal.’
It’s mine. It’s mine. It’s not bad, right?
We have to start by building a wall. A big, beautiful, powerful wall.
And who can forget this brilliant statement?
The Hispanics love me!
Unfortunately for Trump, however, no other Republicans like him (…or love him) aside from his concise, uneducated group. In fact, a recent poll found that 62 percent of Republican voters “definitely would not” support him if Trump wins their party nomination.
So if he’s serious about becoming president, maybe Trump should work on improving his vocabulary.
(And just for the record: the Flesch-Kincaid score for this article is 7.9. And it would have been higher were it not for all the Trump quotes.)
Featured image by Donkey Hotey via Flickr