Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


A Content Analysis of Governor Pawlenty's 2010 State of the State Address

Bookmark and Share

Governor's focus on jobs in speech up more than threefold from 2009 Address despite yearly drop in unemployment

Even though the Gopher State's unemployment rate is slightly lower than the last time Tim Pawlenty delivered his State of the State Address in mid-January 2009, the Governor honed in on jobs as the top issue in his 2010 Address on Thursday morning.

A Smart Politics content analysis of Pawlenty's 2008, 2009, and 2010 Addresses finds that Pawlenty has increasingly focused on jobs in his most high profile speech over the last three years - from speaking on the subject for just 6 sentences in 2008 (2.8 percent of his speech), to 15 lines in 2009 (6.1 percent), to 48 sentences in 2010 (21.3 percent).

When Pawlenty delivered his Address in February 2008, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Minnesota was 5.0 percent - marginally higher than the 4.8 percent rate nationwide. Even though the jobless rate was up 19 percent that year from when he was reelected in November 2006, Pawlenty was more focused in his 2008 speech on several other policy issues, including K-12 education (51 lines), taxes (19 lines), health care (17 lines), energy (13 lines), veterans (12 lines), and agriculture (11 lines).

For his next Address, in January of 2009, the jobless rate had soared to 7.5 percent in Minnesota and 7.6 percent nationwide, and Pawlenty devoted more than twice as much time to jobs. Still, at just 15 lines, employment was only the seventh most discussed policy issue in his speech that year behind K-12 education (50 lines), taxes (26 lines), veterans (25 lines), higher education (19 lines), intergovernmental relations (17 lines), and the budget and spending (16 lines).

On Thursday, jobs were the #1 policy issue discussed by the Governor - even though the unemployment rate has actually dropped slightly from a year ago (to 7.4 percent in the most recent numbers from December; with January's national numbers falling to 9.7 percent, Gopher State residents are hopeful Minnesota's unemployment rate has fallen even further).

While no political opponent in St. Paul could begrudge the Governor for aiming to lower the unemployment rate in Minnesota back to pre-recession levels (Pawlenty did lay out specific tenets of his Jobs Creation Bill in his speech), speculation has run rampant among his detractors for the better part of a year that his words and policy decisions are carefully geared towards a national audience, not simply to his constituents in the Gopher State.

As a result, one wonders why Pawlenty devoted 33 more lines to jobs this year as compared to last year's speech, when unemployment has dropped statewide. Jobless claims nationwide, however, are up 2.1 points at a hefty 9.7 percent with economic concerns very palpable among an anxious American public.

Pawlenty also focused a good portion of his Address Thursday on state spending and the budget crisis that faces Minnesota this legislative session (43 lines, 19.1 percent). Pawlenty not only took pride in how his administration has "dramatically slowed down state government spending," but he criticized both Democrats and Republicans who have adopted the big government, big spending posture now and in the past.

The Governor devoted only 16 lines to spending and budget issues in last year's speech and just 4 lines back in 2008.

Pawlenty, a life-long Minnesotan, is also known for peppering his Addresses with several passages, often humorous, about the uniqueness and grandeur of the Gopher State, and this year was no exception. The Governor spent 31 lines discussing Minnesota culture and history (13.8 percent), from quips about the heartbreaking Minnesota Vikings, to the "goodness" of its people, to the "natural splendor" of the state. Pawlenty similarly devoted 30 lines to "Minnesota life" in his 2009 Address and 34 lines in 2008.

Other top issues raised by the Governor Thursday were veterans (20 lines, 8.9 percent), health care (19 lines, 8.4 percent), and K-12 education (17 lines, 7.6 percent).

Interestingly, Pawlenty only delivered 14 lines (6.2 percent) explicitly on his pet issue of keeping taxes low - down from 26 lines in 2009 and 19 lines in 2008.

Governor Tim Pawlenty's State of the State Addresses by Issue, 2008-2010

Issue
2008
%
2009
%
2010
%
Jobs
6
2.8
15
6.1
48
21.3
Budget / deficit / spending
4
1.9
16
6.6
43
19.1
Minnesota life / history
34
16.0
30
12.3
31
13.8
Military / veterans
12
5.7
25
10.2
20
8.9
Health
17
8.0
6
2.5
19
8.4
K-12 Education
51
24.1
50
20.5
17
7.6
Taxes
19
9.0
26
10.7
14
6.2
Economy (general)
4
1.9
12
4.9
6
2.7
Business / regulations
1
0.5
5
2.0
3
1.3
Challenges (general)
7
3.3
13
5.3
3
1.3
Crime
0
0.0
1
0.4
3
1.3
Religion
1
0.5
3
1.2
3
1.3
Unallotment
0
0.0
0
0.0
3
1.3
Environment
9
4.2
0
0.0
1
0.4
Voting
1
0.5
0
0.0
1
0.4
Agriculture
11
5.2
0
0.0
0
0.0
Disasters
6
2.8
0
0.0
0
0.0
Energy
13
6.1
6
2.5
0
0.0
Higher Education
0
0.0
19
7.8
0
0.0
Intergovernmental relations
0
0.0
17
7.0
0
0.0
Mining
8
3.8
0
0.0
0
0.0
Technology
1
0.5
0
0.0
0
0.0
Transportation
7
3.3
0
0.0
0
0.0
Other
0
0.0
0
0.0
10
4.4
Total
204
100.0
244
100.0
225
100.0
Note: Measured by number of sentences devoted to each topic / policy issue. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Bachmann's Election 2010 Out of State Fundraising Fueled by Democratic States
Next post: Presidents Day Special: The Astrological Signs of the Presidents

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting