Reading Level of State of the Union Addresses

datascience@berkeley collected the reading level of each president’s first State of the Union address using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. The test’s scale of 0-18 correlates to grade level. For example, Trump’s score of 8.1 places his speech at an 8th grade reading level; Wilson’s score of 15.6 places his speech at a collegiate reading level.

Reading Level of State of the Union Addresses
President Party Year Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
Donald J. Trump Republican 2018 8.1
Barack Obama Democrat 2010 8.7
George W. Bush Republican 2002 9.8
Bill Clinton Democrat 1994 8.9
George Bush Sr. Republican 1990 9.0
Ronald Reagan Republican 1982 11.1
James Carter, Jr. Democrat 1978 9.8
Gerald Ford Republican 1975 10.9
Richard Nixon Republican 1970 10.8
Lyndon B. Johnson Democrat 1964 11.4
John F. Kennedy Democrat 1961 12.8
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 1953 12.4
Harry S. Truman Democrat 1946 12.7
Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat 1934 15.5
Herbert Hoover Republican 1929 14.5
Calvin Coolidge Republican 1923 10.9
Warren Harding Republican 1921 14.7
Woodrow Wilson Democrat 1913 15.6

Transcripts: https://presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php


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