Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Program Name

Public Administration

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Christi Bartman


Multiple influences can be utilized to shape the public policy process such as special interest groups, public opinion and industry. Looking at the issue through the lens of the Public Choice Theory, this thesis examines how divisive rhetoric is employed by these influences to shape the public policy process in West Virginia. In highlighting the political positions of individual political candidates as well as political party agendas in promoting divisive War on Coal political rhetoric during the West Virginia mid-term elections of 2014, three distinct public policies impacted by this divisive rhetoric are examined. The examination of these three public policies, one from each level of government (local, state and federal), was used to determine whether divisive rhetoric can exact change on public policies. Through the use of public statements made by public officials and other politicians, it was determined divisive rhetoric does, in fact, influence the public policy process. However, marked differences were identified between policies at each governmental level, particularly in regards to the sphere of influence divisive rhetoric had on the design and implementation of public policies.



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