Media Matters: Developing a Media Driven Model to Understand Bill Passage Rate in the Arizona State Legislature
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The influence of media effects on policy is well documented. Existing research often points to clear relationships between media attention on national issues and legislative activity on those issues; increased attention on a policy area leads to an increase in bills passed on that topic. While state legislatures pass bills at a higher rate than Congress, less research has been focused on state-level activity. As state-based newspapers often focus on their state-relevant issues more so than national newspapers, this research seeks to develop a generalized media effects model by focusing on article activity of four Arizona newspapers: The Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Capitol Times, and the Phoenix New Times. While accounting for bill meta variables (number of sponsors, number of committees introduced to, etc.) and bill text data, a logit model was trained on per-bill-topic article counts from each of those four newspapers to determine their effect on the probability of bill passage in the Arizona Legislature. None of the article variables proved to be significant, suggesting that local media coverage on the topic of general legislative topics does not have the same impact on bill passage as national coverage on singular issues. Bill passage rate, however, positively statistically significantly increased with increases to bill meta variables; this finding confirms that these demographic variables are important in understanding why a bill passes. Finally, while initial analysis showed that text data is not inferential to the passage of bill, more work remains to confirm this finding.