Thursday, January 14, 2016

Brownback State of the State

On Tuesday night, the same night as Obama's last State of the Union Address, there was another little speech here in Kansas.  It was the Brownback State of the State Address, held at 5:30 PM.  I don't get home until about five, and quite honestly I'd rather spend my early evening with my two and half year old daughter.  Brownback's loss, I didn't watch.

Over the last couple of days though, I've seen quite a few commentaries online, critical of the speech, so I thought I would check it out.  Most interesting: an accusation that Brownback called school spending.... "immoral."

So I downloaded the speech, "datafied" it and went to analyzing.  My normal text mining methods are inappropriate because the speech is effectively one single document, so sentiment and topic modeling won't really work.  But I can do other stuff.  First a word cloud:

That's interesting, but not exactly surprising that the number one word associated with a Kansas State of the Union is the word Kansas.  Let's remove Kansas, Kansan, and State and see what we get. 

 The top words here seem to be around "working" and "people" with less focus on the economy.  Also mentioned heavily are the President, the word "rural" and "welfare."

As I mentioned before, with a singular document, topic modeling isn't a valid method, but there are obviously topics covered in the speech.  I reviewed the speech, and found it broke down pretty easily into sections that could be coded.  Here's what the speech looks like in terms of time devoted to topics:

A good amount of the speech was dedicated to bragging about "program successes" (initial brag, welfare to work).  With two other major topics being critiques of the President (terrorism, Obamacare).  Interestingly, the topic in Kansas politics that generally gets the most attention (education) received less attention from the governor (only 7.8%) than water sustainability.

This is all interesting, in terms of where time was spent, but my original reason for looking into the speech was the "immoral" comment.. was it real.  I found it in the speech text, here is specifically what was said:

Yet today, of the more than $4 billion the state puts into education funding, not nearly enough goes toward instruction. That’s highly inefficient, if not immoral, denying Kansans from putting their education dollars were they want it…behind a good teacher.


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