McCain’s Speech at 3rd Grade Level


Most Direct of all Speakers at Either Convention


Palin and Obama Speech Scores Nearly Identical


Austin, Texas, USA.   September 7, 2008. (Updated)  In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Political Conventions, the Global Language Monitor found that John McCain spoke at a third grade reading level, meaning that his speech was the easiest to comprehend of any delivered at either convention.  GLM also found that McCain scored the lowest of all convention speakers in use of the passive voice, an indication of ‘direct’ talk.  Higher use of the passive voice is often view as an indicator of ‘indirect’ and more easily confused speech because the doer of the action is obscured:  ‘Taxes will be raised’  rather than ‘I will raise taxes’. 

In another finding, GLM found that both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s widely viewed (38 and 37 million viewers respectively), and much acclaimed  acceptance speeches were closely similar, delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.2 and 9.3 respectively) ‘reading level’.  

The basic language evaluation stats are shown below.


John McCain Sarah Palin Barack Obama
3.7 9.2 9.3 Grade Level
1.9 1.3 1.5 Sentences / Paragraph
4.4 4.4 4.4 Letters / Word
79.1 63.8 64.4 Reading Ease (100 is easiest)
6.4 19.5 22.1 Words / Sentence
2% 8% 5% Passive Sentences

It is widely believed that shorter sentences, words and paragraphs are easier to comprehend.

The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor, the media analysis and analytics agency.  GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as number of words in a sentence, number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of making things easier to read and, hence, understand.  

This release comes in at the second year of college level (14+).  Warning: do not incorporate these words into presidential addresses.



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