LRB Releases Data on Tenure and Turnover in Legislature

This election season marks a major shift in the Wisconsin State Legislature as 22 representatives and 7 senators announced they will not be seeking reelection in their previously held seats. What is difficult to say, is whether this is a new trend, a rarity, or common. The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau released a report covering tenure and turnover in the Wisconsin Legislature from 1940 to 2012.

The LRB found that the average length of tenure for a legislature has increased significantly in the past 70 years. In the Assembly, representatives serve a two-year term, and are all up for reelection collectively. Senators serve four-year terms, members in odd-numbered districts are up for reelection in “off-years”, even-numbered districts are voted on during presidential election years.

Source: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau

When it comes to turnover in the Wisconsin Legislature, the Senate has seen an increase in the number of senators running for reelection. In the 1940s, 68% of senators ran for reelection; but this number has steadily increased over the years, and peaked in the 1990s when 90% of senators ran for reelection. Between this year and the 2012 election, the number of senators not seeking reelection has risen to the numbers of the 1970, when only 76% of senators sought reelection.

The Assembly is more consistent, when it comes to legislators seeking reelection. Since the 1940s, 82%-88% of legislators ran for reelection, with a few outliers. However, the 22 representatives not seeking reelection this year presents the highest turnover since 1984.

Overall, when senators and representatives do seek reelection, 85.6% senators and 87.6% of representatives are successfully reelected.

The full report can be accessed at the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau website.

This post was submitted by Hamilton Consulting intern, Rebecca Ballweg.