Analysis: Congress Talks Like a Bunch of Teens
Posted on May 21, 2012
The ongoing bickering between congressional Democrats and Republicans can be described as sophomoric, no surprise perhaps given a recent analysis that found the average elected representative in Washington, D.C., speaks at a 10th-grade level, almost a full grade lower than seven years ago. To get to that conclusion, the Sunlight Foundation dissected floor speeches. —TEB
Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.
Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Gettysburg Address comes in at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is at a 9.4 grade level. Most major newspapers are written at between an 11th and 14th grade level.
The complexity of speech in the Congressional Record has declined steadily since 2005, according to a new analysis.