First Advisor

Richard Clucas

Term of Graduation

Winter 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Victims of crimes -- United States, Civil rights -- United States -- 20th century, Constitutional amendments -- United States, Political leadership -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 159 pages)


This dissertation examines the factors associated with the diffusion of state constitutional victims' rights amendments across the United States in the twenty-year period of 1982 to 2001 to understand the impact of the federal government on state constitutional change. Because each branch of the federal government took prominent actions in the area of victims' rights on the national policy stage during this era, it is important to know whether these actions influenced policy change at the state level. This dissertation examines whether one form of prominent federal action, the president's use of rhetoric to acknowledge support for victims' rights, influenced the adoption of state constitutional victims' rights amendments. Using the theory of diffusion to suggest the transfer of policy ideas, from the president to the states, the study constructs a variable to represent the influence of presidential rhetoric in the states by indexing values derived from a content analysis of presidential documents with presidential election results by state. Utilizing this variable among other potential factors including policy innovation, crime rate, ideology, interest groups, and legislative structure, the study then conducts an event history analysis using the semi-parametric model Cox Regression. Results of this study enrich an understanding of presidential power, federalism, and state government by revealing the limitations of the president's influence and supporting the influence of factors such as innovation, crime rate, and legislative structure.


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