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At What Grade Level Does Congress Talk? The Answer May Surprise You

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kereifsnyder, Flickr

If you’ve ever listened to a member of Congress speak and felt like you were being addressed as a child, it’s not your imagination. A new study shows congresspeople now talk at a 10th grade level — a full grade lower than they did just seven years ago.

The Sunlight Foundation ran an analysis on the Congressional Record — an accounting of everything said on the House and Senate floor — and then used something called the Flesch-Kincaid test to assign a grade level to what they found.

The test gives a higher score to bigger words and longer sentences, and although its admittedly imperfect, it did find a shift when compared to years past.

Among Republicans, the most moderate members speak at a college freshman level, while the most conservative members speak at the level of a high school sophomore. Democrats also aren’t immune — the more junior congresspeople who are staunch liberals also tend to use smaller words and shorter sentences.

But since the average American reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level, maybe they’re all adjusting their speech so we can understand them.

“Small words can be just as powerful as big words,” said Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) — who, by the way, speaks at a 7th grade level, the lowest of any member of Congress.

[Sunlight Foundation]

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