The latest attempt to quantify what we already know about presidential speeches comes from the media firm Vocativ.
The essential findings: Speeches have grown steadily in length since 1800, and become simpler in style.
Former President Clinton scribe and historian Jeff Shesol is quoted in analysis: “It’s tempting to read this as a dumbing down of the bully pulpit,” Shesol explains patiently. “But it’s actually a sign of democratization. In the early Republic, presidents could assume that they were speaking to audiences made up mostly of men like themselves: educated, civic-minded landowners. These, of course, were the only Americans with the right to vote. But over time, the franchise expanded and presidential appeals had to reach a broader audience.” —DM