Choose Your Words Carefully: The Electoral Consequences of the Speeches of American State Governors, 2000-2006 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Weinberg, Micah
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • This project analyzes the political ramifications of thousands of words spoken in 293 State of the State speeches by 99 governors in all fifty states between 2000 and 2006. I present evidence that the relative similarity of the language in these speeches to that Democratic or Republican Party platforms communicated a recognizable and salient political orientation that state electorates used to evaluate their governors. Consistent with the expectation of the directional theory of politics, governors who delivered strong signals consistent with the political orientation of the majority of voters had higher public approval ratings. Further, incumbents who delivered directionally-preferred speeches had higher vote shares and chances of reelection. The finding that the partisan signal in gubernatorial speech has an independent impact, one that supersedes that of fiscal policies, underscores the importance of symbolic politics for understanding public outcomes at the state level.
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  • MacKuen, Michael
  • Open access

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