The Impact of Rhetorical Situation on Realism as Measured by the Lexical Content of Governors' State-of-the-State Speeches


  • Daniel DiLeo



This study uses Roderick Hart's method of measuring rhetorical "realism," defined as language that indicates concern with "tangible, immediate, recognizable matters that affect people's everyday lives, in two sets of gubernatorial state-of-the-state speeches. The party affiliation of the governor, economic growth and the per capita income of the state, the level of extremism in public opinion and the combination of divided government and the governor's lack of political experience did not have a consistent impact on the level of realism in the governors' speeches. However, the governors' speeches exhibited higher levels of real-ism in states with liberal public opinion. A variety of possible explanations for this finding are proposed.