Speaking to an Audience: Ann Romney-5th Grade; Barack Obama-8th Grade; Michelle Obama-12th Grade

Saturday, December 29, 2012
Michelle Obama and Ann Romney

Experienced speakers make their choice of words based on what they think their audience will understand. So what does that say about the state of current politics? Key political addresses in 2012 were designed for audiences with less than a college education, and in at least one case, only a grade school one.


Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, Smart Politics analyzed the convention speeches by Ann Romney and Michelle Obama and found quite a difference in their sophistication.


Romney’s was written at a 5th grade level, while the First Lady’s was appropriate for a 12th grade audience.


Michelle Obama’s speech, in fact, was the highest of any given by a presidential nominee’s wife at a convention, according to Eric Ostermeier of Smart Politics.


Her address was also higher than those given by her husband, President Barack Obama, during his the State of the Union speeches, all of which have rated at an 8th grade level. Compared to all State of the Union addresses since 1934, only the 1992 speech by President George H.W. Bush was aimed lower (7th grade).

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Michelle Obama's DNC Speech Written at 7 Grade Levels Above Ann Romney's (by Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics)

"My Message is Simple": Obama's SOTU Written at 8th Grade Level for Third Straight Year (by Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics)


Janee 5 years ago
the contrived "I love you women!" shout at the convention spoke volumes. It was phony yet predictable.

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