Tracking State Trends

Since 2005, Public Opinion Strategies has read and coded every gubernatorial state of the state speech to track emerging issues. (Yes, it’s a long and tedious job, but someone has to do it!)  All the speeches for 2010 have now been given and so it’s time to assess what’s important in the states and what governors are really focused on this year.

Since we took the time to read everything and figure it out, you don’t have to…here are the highlights:

  • Reflecting the number one issue on all voters’ minds these days, the number of policy proposals related to jobs and the economy soared this year to an all-time tracking high of 37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of all proposals put forth by governors in their state addresses – up from 22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} last year.  
  • There has also been an uptick in the number of tax proposals, up from 11{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} last year to 15{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} this year – another all-time tracking high. This increase further underscores the focus on the economy as most of these proposals come in the form of tax credits designed to help consumers and businesses in these tough economic times.   
  • Health care, which usually ranks third or fourth in terms of the number of proposals devoted to an issue, dropped dramatically from 17{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of all proposals last year to a mere 5{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} this year – ranking in seventh place, just above transportation. It seems governors adopted a “wait-and-see” approach when drafting their speeches earlier this year, letting the health care issue play out on the federal stage.   
  • Since 2005 we have seen steady and consistent growth in the number of proposals related to energy and the environment, moving from a mere 3{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2005, to 11{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2006, 13{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2007, and 18{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 2008 and 2009. This year, however, the need to focus on the economy and jobs seems to have trumped interest in energy and the environment as just 10{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of all proposals were devoted to the issue.   
  • Interestingly, despite the sharp trend line changes in proposals related to the economy, health care and the environment, governors continue to place significant emphasis on the issue of education. The proportion of proposals devoted to education this year is largely unchanged at 24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, although 2010 did bring an end to its perennial position at the top of the gubernatorial policy proposal list.

We all know that while legislation about college football picks 2014 gets debated and discussed in Washington, governors are dealing with the reality of what is happening in their states every day. More than ever, this year’s range of gubernatorial proposals reflects what is most important to voters across the country – kick-starting the economy and creating jobs.

Close review of these proposals also highlights how governors adapt and react to their state’s environment. In 2008, prior to the economic downturn, many of the economic proposals were focused on spending and investing as many states were financially healthy. This year’s proposals showcase a variety of creative measures being used across the states to help small businesses stay afloat, encourage start-up businesses, cut unnecessary state spending and create opportunities for web design adelaide job growth as states struggle to fight unemployment rates and budget deficits.

Click here to review Public Opinion Strategies’ Compilation of Policy Proposals from 2010 Gubernatorial State of the State Addresses.

Click here to review the ranking of policy proposals by issue, and by Republican and Democratic governors.

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