A study suggesting that the sophistication of congressional floor speeches has declined by a full grade level since 2005 ranks Reps.
Van Hollen's speeches on the floor of the
The group analyzed 15 years' worth of congressional floor speeches using the Flesch-Kincaid test, which bases its score on the number of words used in each sentence and the number of syllables in each word. It's far from a perfect measure: Superfluous speech and run-on sentences, for instance, can increase scores.
On average, congressional lawmakers speak at about a 10.6 grade level, down from a high of 11.5 in 2006, according to the Sunlight analysis of the Congressional Record. The test measures the U.S. Constitution at a 17.8 grade level and the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, according to the group. This blog item is written at a 12.3 grade level under the formula.
Sunlight's analysis also ranks the most-widely used words on the floor by every member of Congress. Aside from place names ("Maryland," "Baltimore," etc.), "Ripken" and "Orioles" rank high for Rep.
Van Hollen, Sarbanes, Mikulski, Ruppersberger and Cummings are