Study Confirms The Obvious: Liberals Are Better At Grammar Than Conservatives

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It doesn’t take a political scientist to tell you that Democrats are better than Republicans at grammar — but it is sure nice to have the data to back it up.

A study by Grammarly used material taken between April 2015 and August 2015 and the results did reveal a few gems. As you may have suspected Donald Trump leads his GOP competitors in the polls, but his supporters lead in the bad grammar department. Trump’s “linguistic austerity” has surely been critical to his success. A Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test of his debate responses scored at the 4th-grade reading level, and another of his speeches graded at the 3rd-grade level.

The study showed that Republicans weren’t just conservative on policy, they also expressed a much more conservative vocabulary. Democrats used 300 unique words per 1,000 compared to Republicans 245 and generally used more words per comment, 41.8 to 32.4, respectfully. Conservative commenters also made more than twice the mistakes liberals did, 8.7 per 100 words to 4.2.

The top three GOP candidates for grammar are Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Lindsey Graham. The bottom three are Donald Trump, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. So I guess Rick Perry finally got the best of old Trump after all? A small victory, but we’ll count it! And it was really close, Perry’s supporters scored 12.5 to Trump’s 12.6.

Grammarly is a writing-enhancement platform that claims to improve your writing by finding “10 times more mistakes than your word processor.” In other words, it is spellcheck on steroids. The company conducted its study by taking samples of comments from the official Facebook pages of Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. They then controlled for only positive comments and disqualified any “ambiguous or borderline negative comments.”

Personally, I’m not the best speller, and sometimes, I have a tendency to overuse the comma. Luckily for me, serial comma use was not part of the criteria that Grammarly used to determine who biggest offenders are. Their study focused on, “misspellings, wrong and missing punctuation, misused or missing words, and subject-verb disagreement,” and even avoided docking for slang words.

As for the Democrats, it was Lincoln Chafee supporters who made the least mistakes at 3.1 per 100 words, while Hillary Clinton supporters scored 6.3. So yes, the lowest Democratic score was tied with the highest GOP score. Now which party is working to improve public schools?

And in case you are wondering, yes, this post was checked by Grammarly. 😉

GOP Debate Grammar Power Rankings


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

1 Comment

  1. I”m an editor and a Democrat myself, and I respectfully wanted to point out that in the third paragraph, you use the adverb “respectfully” when you clearly mean “respectively.”

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