Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Here's a statistic that surprised me: Once all the new legislators are sworn in, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown could have counted every state senator who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat on one hand (other than the members of Nebraska's non-partisan legislature). That's right, there are only three of them, which means that 99.85% of state senators come from one of the two major parties.
In the lower bodies of legislatures, there will be 15 independent or third-party representatives, which puts the major-party percentage at 99.72%. Of those 15, 8 come from Vermont.
That level of two-party domination is remarkable, particularly given that in November 26% of voters described themselves as independents. But, even independent-minded aspirants for office seem to accept that a major-party affiliation will help them get elected and help them advance their priorities once they're in office. That's especially true in legislative politics, where voters often know nothing about the candidates other than the party they represent.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.