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State of the states: Is education the watchword?


President Obama has called the states the laboratory for federal ideas. So what, exactly, are the ideas currently percolating in the nation’s statehouses?

A study by Public Opinion Strategies takes a comprehensive look at all 50 state of the state addresses to see what governors spent the most time discussing, and how they proposed to spend their political capital.

The results showed a slightly different conversation than the one taking place in the halls of Congress, with education emerging as a bipartisan focus in state capitals but one that’s largely missing on a federal level.

“Governors are education,” said Bill McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, with analysis showing schooling as the top policy issue for GOP governors and a close second for Democrats. “You see this practical focus with Republican governors…more money for education and more funding for infrastructure projects.”


Democratic governors, meanwhile, addressed a wider range of issues with the economy and social issues playing a larger role.

“We saw a little more about minimum wage…more crime and more gun (focus),” McInturff told The Daily Rundown. “(And) not surprisingly, given the economic condition of these states, a little more focus on the economy.”


No matter the party, governors are getting high marks from voters for doing more than just talk about the issues. “We have a lot of ideas that are actually being implemented in these states and there’s sort of a sense of action,” said McInturff. Perhaps Washington should take note.

State of the states: Is education the watchword?