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Hard Times in America's Laboratory for Democracy: Wisconsin Legislative Politics 1966 and 2006

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Publication Date: January 2008

Author(s): Jacob O. Stampen

Funder(s): Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education

Funder(s): Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education

Topic: Education (Education financing, facilities, and equipment)
Education (Colleges and universities)
Government (State or regional government)
Government (Legislative power and procedure)

Keywords: Legislative voting patterns; State funding for postsecondary education; State politics

Type: Report

Coverage: Wisconsin


This paper compares the personal background characteristics and voting behavior of Wisconsin state legislators in two legislative sessions separated by 40 years (1965-1966 and 2005-2006). The study uses cluster analysis to graphically display the differences in the voting patterns of the two sessions. Findings indicate little change in the personal characteristics of the legislators but major differences in voting behavior. This suggests a dramatic and arguably harmful shift in the operation of the state's political system, which could impact policymaking in higher education and other areas. Speculation on how the political shift occurred and possible directions for the future are included.