Study Shows Political Language Is Changing, Affects Parties Differently

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Updated on 31 May 2016

Though we might not think much about them in the context of all the issues discussed during elections, rhetoric and language play a critical role in the success of U.S. presidential candidates. The 2016 presidential election process has been particularly fascinating and prompted us to take a closer look at how election language has changed over time and how it influences candidate success.

In our study, we found:

  • the complexity of politicians’ language is decreasing, according to analysis using seven different Grammarly clarity algorithms, such as sentence length and frequency of the passive voice, and
  • less complex language correlates with higher poll results for Republican politicians, while simpler rhetoric corresponds to lower poll results for Democrats.

Do you follow U.S. presidential elections? Have you noticed any changes in language over the years?

Grammarly Infographic Political Language Changes

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Methodology Grammarly aggregated the debate transcripts transcribed by UCSB. We ran our most accurate and applicable clarity checks for speech on the transcripts. Grammarly focused on the candidates who were in general elections since 1960 for the study of general elections. For the 2016 election cycle, we analyzed candidates who had an average rating of at least 5 percent from July 1, 2015, to May 8, 2016. The top 15 topics were taken from Google’s On the Issues Rich Cards.

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