Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That man in Hartford

I get most of my election coverage from the NY Times.  It occurred to me the other day that I hadn't read much about the race for Connecticut governor, even though the Times has a lot of readers here and it was expected to be close.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that media coverage has shifted towards national politics over the years, and I wondered if that was reflected in a decline of knowledge of state politics in the general public.  There have been occasional survey question over the years on whether people could name the governor of their state.  The results:

Now that's what I call a trend.  I think that knowledge of basic facts about national politics has been stable or declined slightly, but nothing like this.

[Source:  Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]


  1. That trend coincides with two other potentially pertinent societal changes besides media coverage: the significant postwar (and especially post-1964) expansion of federal control over matters that previously were state-level matters; and the spread of term limits for state offices. I tried but couldn't easily find information on the average tenure of governors over the course of the 20th century, but my sense is that governors used to stay put longer than they do now (e.g. Dewey, Rockefeller in New York).

  2. I agree that at least part of it is probably a response to changes in the real importance of the two levels, either directly or indirectly (since a change in media coverage could reflect a change in reality). Although I have to say that the attention paid to Senate vs. gubernatorial races this time really seemed disproportionate to me.

    My impression is that there's actually been a decline in term limits for governors. A number of states in the South used to have strict limits (no re-election), but those have generally been abandoned. However, I don't have any real information either.