Here is an important Monday newsflash to cruelly ruin any budding sense of optimism you may have had about the week: Congress is talking more dumber, new study proves it. The somewhat ironic-sounding “Sunlight Foundation” fished through the daily mosh pits of word battle waged in Congress from 2005 to the present and found that the overall level of oratory in the nation’s most elevated chambers of governance flunked itself back an entire grade level from 11.5 to 10.6 in that time. Just thank Space Jesus they didn’t factor in Chuck Grassley’s Twitter account, okay?
No confirmed reports on exactly why the grade level has dropped, but:
[W]e can immediately notice that grade level of Congressional Record speeches declines among Republicans as the voting record becomes more conservative. Among Republicans, the drop from the most moderate to most conservative is, on average, almost three whole grade levels, from 13th to 10th grade.
Among Democrats, the scatterplot does not reveal any relationship between grade level and ideology. However, when we hold all other factors constant in the regression analysis, we find that the most being on the far left is associated with lower speech grade levels. There is also a clearer correlation between further left voting score and lower grade level among more junior members.
And now for fun we shall add a list of the members Congress with the ten lowest speech grade levels:
1. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) — 7.95
2. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) — 8.02
3. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — 8.04
4. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) — 8.09
5. Rep. W. Todd Akin (R-MO) — 8.14
6. Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) — 8.13
7. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) — 8.44
8. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) — 8.60
9. Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ) — 8.61
10. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) — 8.62
Is there a trend, there? Perhaps. We are Not Allowed to mock this obvious point, however, as wingnuts will be quick to point out that President Barack Obama’s State of the Union scored an eighth grade reading level badge. Although in fairness, we might also speculate that this would have been so that all of the members of Congress would be able to understand it.
[Sunlight Foundation; thanks to Wonkette operative “Jus_Wonderin”]