Visualizing Governors' State of the State Addresses

What words were uttered most often in governors' State of the State addresses this year?
by | February 25, 2013

Governors’ annual State of the State addresses provide a snapshot of each state’s priorities for the coming year.

With that in mind, Governing compiled transcripts of each speech so far. The 48 governors addressing their Legislatures thus far voiced opinions on a range of issues, from curbing gun violence to increasing the minimum wage. Most frequently-discussed topics include pension reform, education funding, infrastructure upgrades and Medicaid expansion.

Some common themes emerge by examining how often select words and phrases were uttered. The following 20 words were among those appearing most often in speeches:

  • Education: 577 mentions by 47 governors
  • Teacher(s): 270 mentions by 43 governors
  • College(s): 213 mentions by 39 governors
  • Jobs: 494 mentions by all 48 governors
  • Business: 492 mentions by all 48 governors
  • Pension: 57 mentions by 18 governors
  • Economy: 245 mentions by all 48 governors
  • Economic Development: 70 mentions by 31 governors
  • Manufacturing: 50 mentions by 22 governors
  • Medicaid: 139 mentions by 30 governors
  • Health care/healthcare: 157 mentions by 39 governors
  • Infrastructure: 88 mentions by 35 governors
  • Transportation: 85 mentions by 24 governors
  • Deficit: 63 mentions by 23 governors
  • Surplus: 26 mentions by 16 governors
  • Mental health: 62 mentions by 18 governors
  • Gun(s)/Weapon(s):  59 mentions by 19 governors
  • Crime: 51 mentions by 19 governors
  • Public safety: 61 mentions by 26 governors
  • Prison: 54 mentions by 18 governors

For a visual representation, we’ve compiled all the speeches into the following word cloud, with larger words appearing most often. (View full-screen map)

Please note than some common words and phrases were filtered out. Also, listed totals do not include speeches by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who have not addressed their Legislatures yet.

To see how your governor's speech compares, click the corresponding link in our list for a text transcript and word cloud.

Of course, how often certain words appear in speeches doesn’t provide a complete picture of what policies governors think are most important. Be sure to check back here later this week for a detailed analysis of some of the top issues governors discussed.

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