THE DUMBING DOWN OF CONGRESS?

Congress now speaks at nearly a full grade level lower than it did seven years ago. Are our legislators communicating more effectively or dumbing themselves down?

Grade Level Comparisons
Congress 2005 Congress 2012 Average American Gettysburg Address Major Newspapers Federalist Papers

11.5

10.6

8-9

11.2

11-14

17.1

Grade Level of Member Speeches by Year
1 1.6 1 1.4 1 1.2 1 1 10.8 10.6 10.4 ‘96 14

Ideology and Grade Level of Congressional Record Speeches, Current Members
Democrats Republicans

Republicans Democrats All Members
‘98 ‘00 ‘02 ‘04 ‘06 ‘08 ‘10 ‘12

12 10 8

The Decline Since 2005

Democrats

- 0.8

Republicans

-0.5

0

0.5

- 1.3

Liberal-Conservative Voting Score, 112th Congress -1 (most liberal) to 1 (most conservative)

Top and Bottom 10 Speakers by Grade Level

Rep. Mark Amodei (R) NV Rep. Daniel Lungren (R) CA Rep. Lucille Royal-Allard (D) CA

13.83

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) LA

13.94 13.74

14.19

Rep. Thomas Petri (R) WI

14.19

16.01

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) PA

Rep. Ralph Hall (R) TX Rep. William Thornberry (R) TX

14.02

14.94

14.13

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) ME

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) HI Rep. David Schweikert (R) AZ

14.18

7.95 8.61
Sen. Rand Paul (R) KY Rep. Todd W. Akin (R) MO Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R) MO

Rep. John Mulvaney (R) SC

8.04

8.02 8.60

Rep. Rob Woodall (R) GA Rep. John Graves (R) GA

8.14

8.09 8.62 8.13

Rep. Sean Duffy (R) WI Sen. Ron Johnson (R) WI Rep. Tim Griffin (R) AR

8.44

Top Ten Bottom Ten

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