This paper examines the role of nationalization and partisan rhetoric in New Jersey gubernatorial debates from 1981 to 2021. This paper looks at the contrasting elections analysis of New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns and the decades-long trend of nationalization in state politics and campaigns. I argue that state campaign rhetoric has become increasingly partisan as a result of nationalization. This paper conducts a hybrid qualitative and quantitative analysis of New Jersey gubernatorial debates between 1981 to 2021. I listened to the speeches and recorded instances when a gubernatorial candidate made a reference to “nationalized party rhetoric,” which is defined as instances when a gubernatorial candidate exhibits the characteristic of referring to the president’s name or political party with the purpose of harkening to national partisanship. I then record the quotes and categorize them as either “bipartisan rhetoric,” “partisan rhetoric,” or “rhetoric opposed to one's own party.” The results show that nationalized party rhetoric was non-existent prior to 1997, but then increased gradually over time. This relationship is also influenced by what party is currently holding the presidency and the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in a given state. The results of this paper have implications for the trend of nationalization and campaign strategy in New Jersey.
- Fellow: Patrick Song
- Advisor: Katherine McCabe