The smart folk at Grammarly — an online grammar checker — examined Facebook posts written by supporters of the 2016 presidential candidates in a savvy bid to garner free press. It helped that the grammar site’s findings confirmed the left’s most treasured conceit — that liberals are more learned than conservatives. Specifically, the study found that supporters of GOP candidates made more grammatical errors than supporters of Democrats, who also displayed a richer vocabulary. Oh, joy, I thought, once again Republicans are the knuckle draggers. I’m with the stoopid party.
Supporters of Democrat Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island governor, logged the fewest mistakes per 100 words (3.1). Carly Fiorina enthusiasts scored the fewest missteps for Republicans (6.3), which also happens to be the highest error rate among Dems (6.3 for Hillary Clinton friends). Every GOP candidate’s followers placed behind Democrats. “Democratic fans made half as many mistakes per 100 words,” Grammarly analyst Michael Mager told me. “As to why there is a divide, we can’t really say,” he said.
Last month, GOP front-runner Donald Trump chastised former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish. “He should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” Trump harrumphed. Speak English, shouted headlines. There’s an asterisk in there: Trump devotees speak English, but not necessarily well. Grammarly found that Trump fans fumbled 1 in 8 words they typed. Losers.
I called Tucker Bounds, who worked for John McCain’s 2008 campaign and then Facebook, to get his take. “The results seem too convenient to be believable,” responded Bounds, who now is with the social network Sidewire. I agree. You’d think at least one GOP candidate’s followers would know where to put a semicolon.
Consider other Democratic stereotypes. According to the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of millennials lean Democratic. Is it wrong for me to suggest a generation weaned on mobile devices does not excel at grammar? According to Pew, immigrant citizens lean Democratic. You would think voters for whom English is a second language would make more grammatical errors — such as poor subject-verb agreement. Mager responded, “We stuck to the same process, and this is what we got.”
On the raw numbers of fans, the R’s kill it. Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson each can boast more than 3.8 million Facebook fans — double the number for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (1.5 million) and Clinton (1.4 million). Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has more followers than Sanders, yet it’s not clear whether Paul will qualify for the next prime-time GOP debate. This is, after all, a numbers game.
Bounds was determined to put a positive spin on bad grammar. “Enthusiasm for the debate is going to skew toward using hybrid words,” he offered, as in “Nobama.” I’ll add feminazis and dittoheads, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh. Bounds sees “the creativity of the Republican base.” The other metric in which the right excelled is brevity — 32.4 words per comment, versus the left’s turgid 41.8 words. Brevity is the soul of wit.
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