December 21, 2018

Governing Magazine has some depressing, though probably not surprising, news today. A Johns Hopkins survey found that one out of three Americans can't name the Governor of their state.

Two reasons cited for this knowledge void are the nationalization of politics and the fact that the media’s coverage of it has shifted resources away from the state and local levels. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, the number of full-time statehouse reporters has declined by more than a third since 2003. While some nontraditional outlets, such as nonprofit and ideological publications, have picked up some of the slack, the media’s watchdog role in state government has weakened.

Celina Stewart, director of advocacy and litigation for the League of Women Voters, says the survey results are “disappointing,” particularly given that “so many decisions made at the state level directly impact the everyday lives of Americans.”

Indeed, all this inattention can have negative consequences for governments and voters. It could lead to corruption going unnoticed -- and that can ultimately cost taxpayers significant amounts of money.

Who runs your state? It matters.

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