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Elvin Lim Talks to Globe About Presidential Candidate Rhetoric

Elvin Lim

Elvin Lim

This election cycle, those presidential candidates who use the simplest language are performing best in the polls, an analysis by The Boston Globe found.

“There’s no time to explain in modern politics,” Elvin Lim, associate professor of government, told the Globe.

On the Republican side, front-runner Donald Trump’s speeches, with short, simple words and sentence, could be understood by a fourth grader, according to the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. In comparison, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore, who are struggling in the polls, communicate with voters at a 10th grade level. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s speeches are “just right for eighth graders,” while Bernie Sanders comes in at a 10th grade level.

Lim, who is the author of,“The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush,” said the current media environment benefits those who can speak in pithy soundbites.

“If you think about the tweet, the tweet is short,” he said. “The candidate who shows they can punch as much as they can in that short time form gets their message out.”

But is that a good thing?

“At some point enough is enough,’’ Lim said. “If you continue drawing these lines, you’re going to hit comic strip levels…There are real costs to oversimplification.”

Government’s Dancey, Fowler, Gallarotti, Lim, McGuire, Rutland, Schwartz, Wiliarty Published in 2013

Logan Dancey,  assistant professor of government, is the co-author of  “Heuristics Behaving Badly: Party Cues and Voter Knowledge,” published in American Journal of Political Science 57 No. 2, 312-325, April 2013.

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, is the co-author of  “Political and News Media Factors Shaping Public Awareness of the HPV Vaccine,” published in Women’s Health Issues 23 No. 3, e143-e151, 2013.

Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, professor of environmental studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies,  is the author of “The Enduring Importance of Hobbes in the Study of IR,” published in e-International Relations, Jan. 10, 2013.

Elvin Lim, associate professor of government, is the author of “The Anti-Federalist Strand in Progressive Politics,” published in Political Research Quarterly, 66 No. 1, 32-45, March 2013.

James McGuire, chair and professor of government, professor of Latin American studies, is the author of  “Political Regime and Social Performance,” published in Contemporary Politics, 19 No. 1, 55-75, March 2013.

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies, is the author of “Neoliberalism and the Russian Transition,” published in Review of International Political Economy20 No. 2, 332-362, April 2013.

Nancy Schwartz, professor of government, tutor in the college of social studies, is the author of “Introduction: Generations,” published in  Polity 45 No. 2, 245-248, April 2013.

Sarah Wiliarty, associate professor of government, director of the Public Affairs Center, is the author of “Nuclear Power in Germany and France,” published in Polity 45 No. 2, 281-296, April 2013.

Lim’s Political Analysis in Faster Times

Elvin Lim, associate professor of government, provided a political analysis on “Why Republicans Can’t Find their Candidate” in the Nov. 10 Faster Times. He discusses politicians Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.

“It is far from clear, then, that 2012 will be a Republican year,” he writes.”Conservatives have yet to explain away a fundamental puzzle: if government is so unnecessary, so inefficient, and so corrupt, why seek an office in it? This is possibly why the very brightest and savviest would-be candidates are in Wall Street, and can’t be bothered with an address change to Pennsylvania Avenue. Except Rick Perry and Herman Cain, of course.”

The article is online here.