Here’s a fun chart that details how Congress’ speaking level has declined over the past 10 years to a 10th-grade level this year, according to a study performed by the Sunlight Foundation.
Photo: Sunlight Foundation
There’s a peak of about 11.5 in 2002. It’s around a 10.6 this year. Now make all your jokes about Democrats speaking at a higher level than Republicans.
The Sunlight Foundation analyses that it’s partly the result of more junior members coming in, and partly a result of senior members simplifying their speech over time:
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the decline. Perhaps it reflects lawmakers speaking more in talking points, and increasingly packaging their floor speeches for YouTube. Gone, perhaps, are the golden days when legislators spoke to persuade each other, thoughtfully wrestled with complex policy trade-offs, and regularly quoted Shakespeare.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks at the lowest grade level, registering just less than an eighth-grade level. Rep. Dan Lungren, a Republican from California, speaks at the highest level — about a 16th-grade level.
Here are some notables: Rand Paul is among the lowest 20 members of Congress, at just above an eighth-grade level. Nancy Pelosi speaks around the average of an 11.5 level. House Speaker John Boehner is 12.6, Marco Rubio is a 9.4, and Rob Portman is at an 11th-grade level. Finally, Harry Reid is at about a 9.75 grade level.
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