The First Lady’s speech Tuesday was written at a 12th grade level - the highest in history among the wives of presidential nominees and far above Ann Romney’s lowest mark of a 5th grade level
Although her husband has delivered some of the simplest State of the Union speeches over the last 75+ years - with all three written at an eighth grade level - Michelle Obama did not follow rhetorical suit on Tuesday evening.
One week after Ann Romney set a record for delivering a speech written at the lowest grade level in convention history by the wives of presidential nominees, Michelle Obama delivers a speech written at the highest ever grade level.
The First Lady’s speech on Tuesday evening was delivered at a grade level of 12.84 - more than 3.5 grade levels above the next highest speech of the 10 previous prepared remarks delivered by wives of presidential nominees since the first such address in 1992 by Barbara Bush.
Ms. Obama also held the previous record with her 2008 speech with a grade level of 9.28.
The speech written at the third highest grade level by such spouses was by another Democrat, Teresa Kerry in 2004, at 9.20, followed by Elizabeth Dole at #4 in 1996 (8.51), Cindy McCain at #5 in 2008 (8.38), Hillary Clinton at #6 in 1996 (8.29), Barbara Bush at #7 in 1992 (7.99), Laura Bush at #8 in 2004 (7.77), Tipper Gore at #9 in 2000 (6.63), and Laura Bush at #10 in 2000 (6.46).
At the very bottom of the list - some 7+ grade levels below the First Lady - is Ann Romney.
The wife of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee gave a speech written at just a 5.80 grade level last Tuesday evening at the RNC.
Speaking of the president, the First Lady’s DNC speech was written at four grade levels above Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses in 2011 (8.1), 2012 (8.4), and 2010 (8.8).
Ms. Obama’s speech is actually written at a higher grade level than all but 11 of the 70 orally delivered State of the Union addresses delivered since 1934.
As with all previous Smart Politics analyses of the readability scores of prepared remarks, it bears repeating that a simplistically written speech does not necessarily mean it is a poor speech, nor that a speech with longer sentences is necessarily superior.
What is interesting in this instance is the stark contrast in how the two political camps in the same election cycle rhetorically crafted their message through their spouses.
Eric Ostermeir, “Michelle Obama’s DNC Speech Written at 7 Grade Levels Above Ann Romney’s,” Smart Politics 9/5/12
Now this is something far more interesting to talk about than her outfit, but the fact that she styled the hell of of that speech with her outfit fills me with a sistahly pride.