Divided government returns to Wisconsin after decade of one-party control

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


After a decade of one-party control of the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature, Wisconsin residents are about to get an education in divided government. Chief among those for whom this will be a learning experience are many lawmakers themselves and Gov. Tony Evers. In the current two-year session, the Democratic governor faces Republican majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. 

A Wisconsin Policy Forum review of legislative biographies found that only 28 of the Legislature’s 132 members (21 percent) were in office the last time control of state government was split — either with a governor of one party and the Legislature of another, as in the current situation, or with one party controlling one house and the governor’s office and another party holding the other house. 

In the Assembly, just 13 of the 99 members (eight Republicans and five Democrats) have served in a divided government. In the Senate, 15 of the 33 senators (seven Republicans and eight Democrats) have encountered similar conditions. This reflects the fact that Senate tenure tends to be longer and many senators began their legislative careers by serving in the Assembly. 

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. Learn more at wispolicyforum.org.