Is Donald Trump smarter than a fifth grader? Maybe so, but his vocabulary hovers around a third- or fourth-grade reading level. So says Jack Shafer at Politico: Trump "prefers to link short, blocky words into other short, blocky words to create short, blocky sentences that he then stacks into short, blocky paragraphs," Shafer writes. According to the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, Trump spoke like a fourth-grader at the August 6 Republican presidential debate, where Ted Cruz talked like a ninth-grader and three others—Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson—hit the eighth-grade mark. Trump's low grade "wasn't a fluke," adds Shafer, as the candidate "earned only a 3rd-grade score" at a Michigan news conference on August 11.
How does Trump do it? Well, he relies on "great" and "very" and loves "we" and "I," the latter being what Schafer calls "his favorite word." And Trump loves pummeling political opponents with "idiots," "morons," "dumb," "haters," "losers," "total losers," and other to-the-point words. "In a freakish way, Trump resembles that of Muhammad Ali at his prime—except the champ was always kidding (even when he was right) while Trump seems to believe his claims (and often is wrong)," writes Shafer. Yet Trump's pared-down vocabulary "has not caused him much political pain," Shafer notes, possibly because "too many politicians talk over the public’s head when more should be talking beneath it in the hope of winning elections." Click for Shafer's full piece.