Category Archives: Governors

Gov. Brewer’s Grand Canyon Bargain Pays Off

Brewer Strikes Deal

By Becky Hogan

The Grand Canyon National Park reopened Saturday in the midst of the government shutdown after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer negotiated a deal with federal officials to reopen the park for seven days.

The communities that surround the Grand Canyon rely heavily on tourism and the approximately 18,000 visitors that the Park draws daily.

And Brewer was determined to get the Park up and running again with or without the cooperation of the federal government to get tourism revenues coming in again.  The state will pay $651,000 to cover a week’s worth of costs to reopen the entire park for seven days.

The funding, $93,000 a day, will come from a mix of state sources and includes funds contributed by Tusayan businesses. The town of Tusayan and its businesses could contribute up to $426,500. After the seven days, the state will reassess whether they have enough funding to keep the park open any longer.

Interior Department spokesman Blake Androff said Thursday the government had no plans to reimburse states that put up funds to reopen parks. But members of Congress introduced legislation Friday to refund the money within 90 days.

Gov. Jan Brewer made the announcement on Twitter Friday.

Brewer Tweets

But she gained more Facebook Likes than Twitter Followers as a result of the announcement.  On both platforms, her peak days occurred when the news was first announced that the Grand canyon would reopen.

Brewer's Gains

As a result of her savvy negotiation skills, the buzz that Brewer has generated online has helped her leap to the number 8 spot on the TrendPo Rank.  She’s the highest seated governor this week, ahead of California Governor Jerry Brown.

The Grand Canyon, along with all other national parks, was closed by the government shutdown that began October 1.

The Interior Department had reached similar reopening agreements with Utah and Colorado earlier on Friday. Compared to Brewer, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper did not see nearly the buzz for the the deals they struck.

Governor Comparison

Part of the reason that Brewer has seen so much momentum around the issue is that she’s been so vocal about calling on President Obama to reopen the Arizona national park and other national parks throughout the country.  Negotiations to reopen the park faltered on Thursday but because Brewer pushed though, she’s seen the biggest gains of any governor yet.

The deal was not only a great boost for the local economies affected by the shutdown of the park but also for her social media presence. We’ll continue to watch the ranking to see how other Governors are reacting to the affects of the government shutdown.


Third Party Candidate Gaining Momentum in VA Governor’s Race

Robert Sarvis

By Becky Hogan

Two words commonly used to describe the current Virginia gubernatorial candidates: “lackluster” and “flawed.”

Wednesday night Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe squared off in their second debate of the race, which led many to draw their attention elsewhere–to the race’s up-and-coming third party candidate, Robert Sarvis, a libertarian who is seeing a recent surge in the polls.

Sarvis aired his first ad of the campaign during the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli debate, describing himself as an alternative to the other two candidates.

Twitter Followings After Debate 2

While there didn’t seem to be a clear winner in Wednesday’s debate, the Twittersphere was siding with Cucinelli, gaining 561 new followers during the debate.  Sarvis gained half as many followers as McAuliffe but it’s proof that his ad resonated with some voters even though he’s seen little attention in the media.

The TrendPo Rank is a handy scoring of politicians’ online buzz based on news mentions and social media engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  And it demonstrates Sarvis’ recent momentum as well as how tight the race is becoming between its two front-runners.

Lately, the the rank is also mimicking polls, giving McAuliffe a slight edge over Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe leads with 43 percent over Cuccinelli’s 38 percent among likely voters, according to the survey by NBC4/NBC News and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

TrendPo Rank Tracking with Polls

Sarvis, a lawyer and software engineer, is showing about a 10% share in the polls.  It’s unlikely that he’ll have a chance at winning the election this stage in the game, but he could take votes away from either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe…and lately it looks to be the former.

Analysts say it could turn out to be the most expensive race in Virginia’s history.

But it’s turning out to be an expensive race because Virginia voters aren’t really impressed by either McAuliffe or Cuccinelli, and both candidates have been questioned about their ethics during the campaign.

While Cuccinelli has been better at engaging voters online, McAuliffe’s campaign has outperformed in fundraising.  McAuliffe has raised $18.4 million, while Cuccinelli has raised $11.3 million, according to Virginia Public Access Project.

One thing that’s interesting about the Virginia’s governor race is that it seems to take on trending national issues–in the first debate, Cuccinelli and McAuliffe sparred over abortion and medicaid.

In the second debate, the issue of guns and background checks was center stage.  McAuliffe voiced his support for universal background checks. Cuccinelli spoke about the importance of resolving mental health care issues. Sarvis wasn’t invited to the debate but supports gun ownership and blames outdated drug laws for gun violence.

In true anti-government fashion, he also backs legalizing marijuana, reducing taxes and limiting government regulations.  Are Virginians ready for Sarvis or just tired of Cuccinelli and McAuliffe? We’ll continue to watch as Sarvis’ rising popularity has consequences for Cuccinelli and McAuliffe.

Governors Buck GOP on Medicaid Expansion

Gov Snyder

By Becky Hogan

While congressional Republicans in Washington are still rallying to repeal Obamacare, many Republican governors across the country are singing a different tune when it comes to Medicaid expansion, a key tenet of the Affordable Care Act.

This week Michigan’s GOP-controlled Senate passed Governor Rick Snyder’s Medicaid expansion proposal by two votes. The measure is thought to pass easily in the state House next week, making Michigan the 25th state to choose Medicare expansion.

What’s unique about Snyder’s move is that he’s only the second Republican governor to push such a measure through a Republican-controlled legislature. In June, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer won a major political victory by pushing Medicaid expansion through the Arizona legislature.

News coverage during the week that their respective legislatures passed Medicaid Expansion shows some of the different nuances that the Governors are up against on the issue.

Snyder Pushes Medicaid Expansion

While Snyder got considerable state coverage, he received very little national media attention on the issue. With Snyder facing a tough re-election battle next year, it’s possible that governor is under a lot more scrutiny in the media than Brewer who is term-limited.

The week that Brewer signed the Medicaid expansion in Arizona, she saw  more national media coverage on the issue than Snyder.  And her state coverage was almost on par with her national coverage.  It’s likely that she saw more national coverage on this issue because she’s been a very outspoken proponent against the Obama Administration, even with regard to the healthcare overhaul. She was also the first Republican governor with a GOP-controlled legislature to pass the expansion.

For governors facing tough re-election battles, the move is an appeal to women and in independent voters that could blunt criticism they are ambivalent to the poor by embracing billions in federal dollars to cover millions of residents.

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Florida Governor Rick Scott are also eyeing similar legislation in their states in hopes of winning re-election in their states.

In Michigan, Snyder has argued that receiving an estimated additional $1.4 billion in federal money to bring roughly 500,000 residents under health coverage makes economic sense.

Conservatives in the Michigan’s  state legislature argue that the move is unsustainable and will eventually cost the state millions in medical costs.

How do Snyder and Brewer compare on social media as a result of their successful efforts to push this measure?

Snyder vs Brewer

Comparing the week that Arizona passed the expansion to this week in Michigan when the Senate passed the measure, Brewer and Snyder saw virtually the same gains in Twitter Followers.

However, Brewers gained 500 Facebook Likes after passing the expansion, whereas Snyder has actually lost Facebook Likes this week.

With 590,087 Facebook Likes in total, there’s no question Brewer is reaching a larger audience than Snyder whose Facebook presence is at 44,697 Likes, which could explain why her statuses were shared so many more times the week Arizona passed Medicaid expansion.

But even if you consider that Brewer has 13 times more Facebook Likes than Snyder, her status shares were 67 times more than Snyder’s which could indicate that Snyder’s message on Medicaid expansion is lost among his supporters.

While many think that Michigan voters would be more likely to support Snyder’s re-election based on his call to expand Medicaid, so far, his social media numbers aren’t reflecting a lot of support.

This could affect the governor’s reelection campaign, especially considering he’s been bruised on Obamacare before after repeatedly failing to set set up a state health care exchange in Michigan.

If Snyder wants to win another term as governor, he may want to amp up his messaging on social media channels.

50 Years After the March on Washington, Politicians Take The Stage



By Ryan Isakow

50 years ago, over 200,000 people marched on Washington to demand equal rights and economic opportunity. Speakers included religious leaders, students, labor activists and singers – but not a single elected official spoke. Yesterday, some of the most influential politicians in the country took the stage to discuss the achievements of the past 50 years and the progress yet to be made. All of the politicians who spoke saw jumps in their Facebook likes, to varying extents.


Unsurprisingly, President Obama had the largest increase followed by President Clinton – both of their speeches were more heavily featured by the media, and are both have a high level of public exposure from being president. The other speakers look small in comparison, but the increase in their Facebook likes is high compared to their usual intake; the day before the march Marcia Fudge got 3 new likes, Joaquin Castro got 6, John Lewis 32 and Senator King 0. Barack Obama received twice as many new likes the day of the march as he did the day before, and President Clinton went from 2443 new likes the day before to 3371 – an increase of nearly 1000 new likes per day.

Of course, by virtue of having such a large national profile it’s not surprising the presidents received more social media feedback. Barack Obama had over 36 million likes the day of the march; Angus King had slightly less than 4000. A better measure of public exposure would be percent change, which would account for the dramatic difference in preexisting prominence.


John Lewis received the biggest change out of anybody, increasing his total likes by over 2%. As the youngest speaker at the original March on Washington, Rep. Lewis’ presence had a symbolic significance that got attention on social media.  This also says something about how we look at changes in social media; raw numbers matter, but preexisting followers make a difference in new followers.

The fact that mainstream politicians went on stage for the 50th anniversary of the March says a lot about how far the country has come. We’re happy to see social media is responding to the rally, and will be keeping an eye on future civil rights initiatives on social media.

LePaige’s Rough Summer


Paul LePage has had a rough month. Back in June he had his budget veto was overridden with a bipartisan vote. After joking that he wanted to blow up the Portland Press Herald in a flight simulator, a rumor circulated that he said President Obama “hates white people” at a dinner. While all of this has done nothing good for his image, it has gotten him more attention than he’s used to.


The interesting part of this is how big of a discrepancy there is between national, beltway, and state media. While LePaige’s difficulties have been extensively covered by state media and received some beltway coverage, it hasn’t made much of a wave nationally. This is surprisingly low profile for such a controversial governor – even if Maine is a relatively small state. We looked at another governor, Jerry Brown, to see how the statistics held up.


Brown also has significantly more state stories than anything else, which isn’t much of a surprise. What is surprising is how much bigger his national profile is compared to his beltway media coverage.  The obvious explanation is state size – the governor of a 38 million person state usually has more national impact than the governor of a 1.3 million person state.

Still, the relative coverage by beltway media indicates a gap in what different kinds of news stories emphasize. While national news may cover events with a national impact and state news with state impact, beltway media focuses on events that have a political impact. The result seems to be a relative overrepresentation of small states in beltway coverage. Which, unfortunately for LePage, means more coverage of his rough summer.

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