Two days after President Donald Trump boasted he is “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius,” the self-described “data schmoos” at factba.se concluded he has the vocabulary of a fourth grader — the lowest of the past 15 U.S. presidents. They analyzed presidential utterances during news conferences, debates and interviews to surmise:
“By any metric to measure vocabulary, using more than a half dozen tests with different methodologies, Donald Trump has the most basic, most simplistically constructed, least diverse vocabulary of any president in the last 90 years. This is by a statistically significant margin in each case.”
The top vocabularies were those of:
- Herbert Hoover — 11th grade
- Jimmy Carter — 10th grade
- Barack Obama — 9th grade.
Factba.se said it based its analysis on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level metric, “developed for the military in the 1970s as a way to check that training materials were appropriate and could be understood by its personnel.” When it checked the same words in more than a dozen other algorithms, the results were the same.
“It statistically made no difference which way we analyzed it, or which method,” factba.se chief executive officer Bill Frischling wrote Monday (Jan. 8). “It affected some scores and some of the ranks, but not the position of Donald Trump on that list. In each case, he ranked last of the past 15 presidents.