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Verbal Style, Gubernatorial Strategies, and Legislative Success

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Abstract

This article examines the relationship between a governor's verbal style and his success in achieving his legislative goals. We add a measure of verbal style developed by Roderick Hart to a traditional model used by scholars of political chief executives to explain legislative success. We apply this model to the State of the State addresses of six governors of Florida who served between 1966 and 2006. Our findings reflect the validity of the truism “words matter.” Governors who use words and phrases that connote enthusiasm, activity, and realism are more successful in the legislative arena than those who do not.

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