Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



There has been an explosion of research measuring governments' COVID-19 response both in the U.S. and globally. The response from the U.S. federal government to the COVID-19 pandemic was not consistent. Therefore, state governors had a variety of responses. Publicly available cell phone movement data was used to explore governors' impact on citizens' adherence to stay-at-home orders. This data was used to assess the impact of governors' press conferences, controlling for COVID-19 case count, partisanship, median income, and other factors. There were 13 Midwest states observed over 13 months from February 1, 2020, to February 26, 2021. The results of the regressions are that all state governors, with one exception, had an impact on citizens' movement, meaning the more press statements the governor gave on the danger of the pandemic, the fewer citizens moved. To further test governors' press statements, I undertook a qualitative analysis of rhetoric by governors using classical rhetoric tools of persuasion using arguments of moral character, logic, and emotion. The results are that governors' statements are critical to ensuring stay-at-home compliance.

Level of Honors

cum laude




William Hixon

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