Trump speaks at level of 8-year-old, new analysis finds

Mr Trump scores the lowest of any of the past 15 presidents

Emily Shugerman
New York
Tuesday 09 January 2018 16:57 GMT
Donald Trump pledged to build a border wall when he announced his candidacy
Donald Trump pledged to build a border wall when he announced his candidacy (AP Photo/David J Phillip)

Donald Trump may call himself a genius on Twitter, but his spoken statements say otherwise.

An analysis of the President's first 30,000 words uttered in office found Mr Trump speaks at a third- to seventh-grade reading level – lower than any other President since 1929. Mr Trump’s vocabulary and grammatical structure is “significantly more simple, and less diverse” than any President since Herbert Hoover, the analysis found.

The comparison is based on interviews, speeches and press conferences for every president dating back to 1929, compiled by online database Analysts at studied the “off-script” remarks of all 15 men – essentially, everything but their prepared speeches – to compare and contrast their speaking skills.

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Analysts ran the records through eight different tests for vocabulary complexity, diversity, and comprehension level. In every single test, Mr Trump scored the lowest.

Mr Trump averaged significantly fewer syllables per word than the last 14 Presidents, and used significantly fewer unique words. The gaps appeared when comparing all available remarks, and when comparing only the first 30,000 words of each presidency. Social media posts were excluded from the data.

“Compared to the 14 presidents who preceded him, by every measure, [Mr Trump’s] use of words when off script are significantly less diverse, and simpler, than all presidents who preceded him back to Herbert Hoover,” wrote CEO Bill Frischling.

The topic of Mr Trump’s mental acuity has dominated the national conversation since the publication of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, an explosive new book about the Trump administration. The book’s author, Michael Wolff, claims Mr Trump’s family, friends, and coworkers all regularly questioned his fitness to serve.

Mr Trump disputed these claims via Twitter last week, claiming he was a “very stable genius” and “like, really smart”. He was supported by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who called questions about the President’s mental state “outrageous”.

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“It's absolutely outrageous to make these types of accusations and it's simply untrue, and it’s sad that people are going and making these desperate attempts to attack the President,” she said in an interview on Fox & Friends.

But many Congressional Democrats – and even some of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans – still refute the idea that the President is their intellectual superior. More than a dozen House and Senate Republicans declined to endorse Mr Trump’s claim that he was a “genius” in interviews with CNN on Monday.

Republican Senator Jerry Moran, for example, said Mr Trump was “smart and capable at getting himself elected president”. But when asked whether he was a genius, Mr Moran replied: “Got nothing.”

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