How President Obama’s acceptance speech stacked up — in 1 chart

September 7, 2012

With President Obama's acceptance speech now in the history books, the comparisons to speeches past will now begin in earnest.

To that end, C-SPAN, a network close to the Fix's heart, posted a great chart on Thursday night that details the length of every presidential acceptance speech since 1972.

Here's the chart:

Obama's 38-minute address was on the short end of the spectrum -- especially when compared to the speeches since the mid 1980s. (Mitt Romney's speech was also on the short end -- clocking in at 37 minutes and 47 seconds.)

The longest acceptance speech ever was from Bill Clinton (natch) in 1996; Bubba went on for 64 minutes and 44 seconds.  Surprisingly (at least to us) George W. Bush clocked in second with a 64 minute, 2 second address in 2004. The shortest acceptance speech in modern memory goes to South Dakota Sen. George McGovern who talked for just 21 minutes and 44 second in 1972.

There seems to be little correlation between speech length and victory. In 2008 John McCain spoke longer than Barack Obama and lost. But Bush spoke 17 minutes longer than Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and still won.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Aaron Blake · September 7, 2012