Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Melinda A. Mueller


This research focuses on reactions by members of Congress during the State of the Union address. Quantitative methods are used to examine if changes in overall political conditions, especially the level of partisanship, changes the nature of the responses of political actors. The results find that Congress responds to the speech in two major ways. Responses can represent attempts at partisan unity or alternatively represent attempts to show stronger than normal support for certain issues. This research supports several competing theories of representation and highlights the need to establish proper context when studying political actions. Since multiple theories of representation can draw from the conclusions the research also emphasizes the need for models to be synthesized that draw from more than one theory.