Donald Trump Speaks To Voters At A Fourth Grade Level: Is Simple Language The Key To His Success?

A recent analysis suggests that presidential hopeful Donald Trump is speaking to voters at a fourth grade level, whereas his counterparts are using slightly more advanced language. Trump was determined by analysts to be speaking at the lowest comprehension level of any of the candidates, both Democrat or Republican. However, it seems that his simple language and focus on emotions is proving to be successful for his campaign.

According to the Boston Globe, Donald Trump uses extremely simple language when expressing views to voters. His sentences are short and to-the-point without going deep into complicated political matters. During an analysis of presidential candidates’ announcement speeches using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, it was determined by Globe analysts that Trump was using the most basic language of any of the candidates. He clocked in at a speech comprehension level of 4.1, just fourth grade level. John Kasich was not far behind with a level of 4.7, almost fifth grade.


Though Trump uses simple language, it does not mean that he is not educated. In fact, one of the most highly educated candidates in the race, Dr. Ben Carson, gave a presidential announcement speech at just the fifth grade level with a Flesch-Kincaid readability test score of 5.9. So what does the analysis mean for candidates and Trump?

TheBlaze points out that keeping it simple may be exactly what candidates need to win the race. Republican strategist Rick Wilson says that Trump’s message is simple and clear while resonating with voters’ emotions. He keeps the speech simple which is more relatable to the average voter.

“He’s not talking about the complexity of international affairs. It’s, ‘Let’s take their oil!’ It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out exegesis of American foreign policy. It’s Trump. It’s simple.”

Ben Carson

In fact, Elvin T. Lim, a professor at Wesleyan University, claims that in the fast-paced society that we live today, simpler language is better as people don’t want to take the time to listen to a long, drawn-out explanation of modern politics.

“There’s no time to explain in modern politics.”

The numbers indicate that the candidates using simpler speech are doing better in the polls. For example, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore are using the highest level of speech at 10.3 and 10.5 respectively, while struggling in the polls. Meanwhile, candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson are soaring in the polls. With candidates opting for easy-to-understand language in order to make their message as clear as possible, it seems that emotions are going to play a key role in the 2016 presidential race.

The idea that simple language is more relatable in today’s society should not be surprising as the new generation of young voters are familiar with a 140-character Twitter world. Modern society is filled with quick 10-second ad spots and social media, all of which thrive with the simplest message possible. However, some feel that politics should not be made simple as they are complex issues. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is giving his speeches at a 10th grade level as he takes on topics such as Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is using language suitable for an eighth grader.

Bernie Sanders

What do you think about the Flesch-Kincaid readability test on the presidential speeches? Does it surprise you that the two candidates using the simplest speech are doing the best in polls? Do you think Donald Trump is “dumbing down” his speeches too much?

[Photo by Scott Olson/ Getty Images]