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Report: Split Party Control Of State Legislatures Increasingly Rare

30 States, Including Wisconsin, Have Two GOP-Led Legislative Chambers

Wisconsin State Capitol
jonathan hartsaw (CC-BY-NC)

Wisconsin Democrats are hoping to regain some power in the state Legislature this fall, but a national review of statehouses shows political parties splitting control of state government is rare.

Republicans currently hold a 19-14 majority in the Wisconsin state Senate and a 63-36 majority in the Wisconsin state Assembly. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that aligns with a national trends.

A new analysis from the organization, which tracks state legislative activity, found Republicans control a higher percentage of state legislative bodies than ever before. The GOP controls both legislative chambers in 30 states, including Wisconsin.

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Daniel Diorio, a policy specialist at the NCSL, traces the strength of today’s Republican Party back to 2010, a year that “was really a watershed year for Republicans,” Diorio said.

“It was part of a national wave, and Republicans took over 24 chambers,” he said. “And that is a big, big margin. On average, only about half of those chambers change every year.”

Republicans also led the redrawing of legislative district maps in many states after the 2010 election, which may help the GOP maintain legislative majorities across the country this fall, he said.

Sustained single-party control across the country could also be attributed to increased partisanship, Diorio said.

“The parties themselves are kind of pushing each other to the extreme, so they’re becoming entrenched in certain places and then it’s harder to have that split control,” he said.

The NCSL review found Democrats control both chambers in 12 states, leaving only seven states with split-party control.

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