Have you ever listened really closely to the words politicians use and the shape of their sentences? The website and writing app Grammarly decided to do just that — at an algorithmic level — and analyzed the debate transcripts of major presidential candidates from 1960 to today.

For instance, how often did politicians use sentences longer than 40 words with four or more letters per word? Were their phrases active or passive? Did they often use the hedge phrase “and/or”?

It found a couple interesting trends:

— Over time, the complexity of politicians’ language appears to have decreased.

— Less complex rhetoric appears to correlate with higher poll results for Republican candidates and lower poll results for Democrats.

For this presidential election cycle, Grammarly analyzed the language patterns of the candidates with an average rating of at least 5 percent from July 1, 2015, to May 8, 2016.

Combined, the Democratic candidates had a greater percentage of sentences considered complex than Republican candidates — with Bernie Sanders at 5.51 percent and Hillary Clinton at 7.87 percent.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump spoke in more complex sentences 3.3 percent of the time. With Ted Cruz, it was 5.5 percent; Jeb Bush, 6.1 percent; Ben Carson, 6.1 percent; and Marco Rubio, 6.3 percent.

Check out the site’s full infographic below:

“Grammarly
Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...