Date Presented

Spring 4-24-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Lorna Dawson

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Kicklighter

Third Advisor

Dr. Gerald Prante

Abstract

Scholars of American public policy have noted substantial policy differences that persist among the American States. The policy environment that exists in a State contributes to its unique character: some states are more Liberal, some more Conservative. In this paper, I provide a measure of the differences among the American states in the ideological orientation of their public policies and an exploration of the possible explanations for these differences. Using several polarizing public policy issue areas, I developed a Policy Liberalism Score that provides a relative measure of a state’s policy orientation. I then ran a cross-sectional linear regression model to assess the relationship between these scores and a variety of independent variables. This model produces statistically significant results for three political variables: Partisan control of the State Legislature, Party Strength, and Legislative Professionalism. Further linear regression and binary logistical models for each of the component issue areas in Policy Liberalism likewise show political variables to be statistically significant. These findings support the literature that suggests political variables are important determinants of a state’s policy outcomes.

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