Same party, different rhetoric: Assessing patterns of nationalization in state legislative campaign content using campaign websites

Author: Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod (

Recent scholarship has claimed that the increase in negative partisanship and polarization among citizens, has led to nationalization of American politics, though little work has been done to explore the impact of nationalization on state political rhetoric. This manuscript introduces unique candidate nationalization scores derived from a novel national dataset of campaign statements from state legislative campaign websites during the 2018 and 2020 campaigns. Resulting scores show a complicated pattern of nationalization, where Republican and Democratic candidates not only nationalize around different sources but also react to factors like competition differently. This study indicates that the transition from national campaign rhetoric into partisan state campaigns is more complicated than theories of nationalization would imply and that these nuances warrant further investigation.