DISC Archive: Voting Behavior in the Wisconsin State Legislature, 2003-2010

The latest addition to the DISC online data archive offers a timely opportunity for researchers to delve into the voting dynamics of the Wisconsin state legislature in the past decade.  Jacob Stampen, emeritus professor at UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and visiting researcher at WISCAPE, has deposited Voting Behavior in the Wisconsin State Legislature, 2003-2010 with DISC.

As Stampen explained for a recent UW-Madison News article, the project grew out of concerns for the health of Wisconsin’s political system. His analysis revealed that voting behavior had changed significantly since the 1960s. Not only had legislators begun voting more frequently in line with their respective parties, but also in closer alignment with the positions of major lobbying organizations.

The data that Stampen compiled across four sessions of the Wisconsin state legislators are now available for other researchers to investigate.  The Voting Behavior data focuses on final floor votes in both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature, across four legislative sessions.  Only votes contested by at least 5% of voting legislators are included.  Biographical information for each legislator includes variables such as age, educational attainment, occupation, military service, margin of victory in the last election, and leadership and committee assignments.  Ratings from lobbying organizations were compiled from Project Vote Smart, and campaign finance data originated from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

As expressed in the “Suggestions for Database Users” document that accompanies the codebooks for the data,

Making the accompanying databases widely accessible will hopefully help to elevate the discourse over Wisconsin politics by making legislative actions easier for policy analysts, students, journalists and interested citizens to analyze and make sense of.

Past and future legislative sessions will be added to the archive as they become available or can be placed in consistent formats.