Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, May 27, 2005

Supply side or demand side?

The Chronicle of Higher Education lists the majority of the Spring Commencement speakers around the country.

Here's a breakdown of some current politicians of note:

Sen. George Allen: 1
Pres. George W. Bush: 2
Pres. Bill Clinton: 0
Sen. Hillary Clinton: 4 (3 in New York, 1 in Georgia)
Sen. John McCain: 2
Al Gore: 1
Sen. Chuck Hagel: 2
Sen. Barack Obama: 1
Gov. Ed Rendell: 2
Tim Russert: 4 (okay, just kidding - sort of)

There are a few others that are giving more than one commencement speech, such as Maya Angelou and Tom Brokaw, but the average number of speeches given is very close to one.

Here's some similar numbers from last year (2004):

Sen. John Breaux: 3
Pres. George W. Bush: 0
Pres. Bill Clinton: 1
Sen. Hillary Clinton: 2
Gov. Howard Dean: 0
Sen. John Edwards: 0
Sen. Lindsey Graham: 3
Sen. John Kerry: 0
Sen. Chuck Schumer: 3

And from 2003:

Pres. George W. Bush: 0
Pres. Bill Clinton: 3
Sen. Hillary Clinton: 3

So, are the Clintons taking advantage of commencement speeches as free political advertising? Hillary is definitely active on the circuit - whether this is the cause of supply side or demand side effects is unclear.

I would think those with political aspirations to higher office would be remiss to pass up an opportunity to talk to the next generation of upwardly mobile voters.

A testable hypothesis would be to see how many commencement speeches are given in the year of a politician's re-election campaign (perhaps they are limited to how many they can give?), and whether those with national aspirations, i.e., president or vice-president, give a more geographically diverse set of speeches.

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