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CNN: Palin Spoke at a 10th Grade Level, Biden at Junior High Level

October 4, 2008

CNN’s own article:

Thursday night’s debate between the vice presidential candidates “was more collegial, thinking out loud as opposed to just hammering points,” Payack said in trying to explain the difference. “It was a much calmer style.”

His analysis ranked the candidates’ speech on several other levels, too. Here’s the breakdown:

Grade level: Biden, 7.8; Palin, 9.5 (Newspapers are typically written to a sixth-grade reading level.)

Sentences per paragraph: statistically tied at 2.7 for Biden and 2.6 for Palin.

Letters per word: tied at 4.4.

Ease of reading: Biden, 66.7 (with 100 being the easiest to read or hear), versus 62.4 for Palin.

The analysis said Abraham Lincoln spoke at an 11th-grade level during his seven debates in 1858 against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas in their race for a Senate seat from Illinois.

But higher grade level doesn’t necessarily mean better sentence, Payack said. He pointed to Palin’s second-to-last sentence in the debate, which the formula put at a grade level of 18.3:

There is someone in America counting the words in a ninety minute debate.  I hope tax payer dollars aren’t funding this

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One comment

  1. Any actual teacher will tell you that the number of words in a sentence has little relation to the quality of the ideas, the overall work, or the author. Spouting gibberish without punctuation does not make something “15th grade level.”



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