Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Waterman


What is the importance of political speechmaking? Do state governors discuss presidential priorities? This study addresses these questions by analyzing the contents of annual State of the State addresses given by governors from 2012 to 2014 during the presidency of Barack Obama. A descriptive paper provides evidence that governors primarily discuss employment and economic issues in their addresses, are discussing greater number of policy issues than in previous decades, and are delivering their address before the presidential State of the Union message. Examining health care and immigration policy in separate empirical papers, I theorize that contextual factors, including legislative partisanship, public approval, and presidential influence may affect the extent to which policies supported by the Obama administration are rhetorically referenced by governors. Empirical analyses found limited support for the influence of divided government, but demonstrated significant evidence for the importance of including state-centric factors, including annual employment rate and proximity to Mexico, as well as temporal effects, into future analyses of gubernatorial rhetoric.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)