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Approval ratings for Congress are at a record low, with many conservatives believing that Congress does too much, spends too much, and many liberals believing that Congresspeople do too little. But what about what members of Congress say?
It turns out that Congresspeople are not only child-like in their ability to govern, but also in how they communicate. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Lee Drutman ran Congressional floor speeches, which are part of the Congressional record, through an algorithm to determine their grade level.
“We just kind of did it for fun, and I was kind of shocked when I plotted that data and I saw that, oh my God, there’s been a real drop-off in the last several years,” he says.
In 2005, Congress spoke at an 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Now, it’s 10.6. In other words, Congress went from talking like juniors to talking like sophomores.
Among the highest Congressional grade levels? Rep. Dan Lungren, a Republican from California, scored 16. Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall registers the second-lowest grade level: 8.01.