The Washington Post

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

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.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Aaron Blake · September 7, 2012

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.