Read on for some statistics and insights about the level of civic engagement, political engagement and a “state of the state” overview of Wisconsin.



Civic and Political Engagement

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service for 2018:

  • 37.4% of residents volunteer, ranking them 12th among the 50 states and Washington, DC.
  • 1,718,821 volunteers
  • 164.3 million hours of service
  • $3.9 billion worth of service contributed

Looking at political engagement specifically, according to this 2018 Wallethub.com study, Wisconsin ranks #10 based on a  weighted average across the following metrics:

  • Percentage of Registered Voters in the 2016 Presidential Election
  • Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2014 Midterm Elections
  • Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election
  • Change in Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2016 Elections Compared with the 2012 Elections
  • Total Political Contributions per Adult Population
  • Civic Education Engagement
  • Voter Accessibility Policies


Women in Wisconsin Politics

As of 2018, there are 23 women legislators in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and 9 in the Wisconsin State Senate – for a total of 32 out of 132 seats in both chambers. This equals 24.2% of the legislature (Source: NCSL).

See how many women serve in Wisconsin’s executive offices here.

Wisconsin ranks 16th in women’s equality in 2018 – based on workplace environment (pay, unemployment and entrepreneurship rate disparity), education environment (education levels and math and reading scores), and political empowerment (disparity in elected offices) (Source: Wallethub).


What Color is Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes and political leaders consider it to be a political battleground. Wisconsin voted mostly Republican from the mid-1940s through 1984. Democrats consistently won elections from 1988 to 2012. In recent elections, however, races have been extremely close. Donald Trump won the state by 0.7% over Hillary Clinton (270towin).



State of the State

State Government Structure

The Wisconsin State Legislature is a bicameral legislature composed of the lower Wisconsin State Assembly (99 members) and the upper Wisconsin State Senate (33 members).

After the 2018 elections, Wisconsin became a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that a single political party (in this case the Republican party) holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house.

  • The Assembly is currently made up of 36 Democrats and 63 Republicans 
  • Senators serve four years and assembly members serve two years
  • These elected officials make $50,950 per year.
  • In 2016, the Legislature was in session from January 12 through March 15
  • Each senator represents an average of 172,333 residents, as of the 2010 Census, and each assembly member represents an average of 57,444 residents (Ballotpedia).


Budget Process

Wisconsin operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in June.
  2. State agencies submit budget requests in September.
  3. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Wisconsin State Legislature in January.
  4. The legislature adopts a budget in June or July. A simple majority is needed to pass a budget.
  5. The biennial budget cycle begins in July.

The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget, and the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget (Ballotpedia).


Business Climate

A 2018 CNBC study ranks Wisconsin #17 in terms of overall business climate.




Wisconsin ranks 24th in Cato Institute’s 2018 Freedom in the 50 states. The overall freedom ranking is a combination of personal and economic freedoms.


Additional Resources

  • PEW Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis
  • PEW Women in Leadership  – see analysis of women in leadership on a national scale
  • National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) Fiscal Survey of States
  • Compare 50 – pick what stats you want to compare with what states here
  • State Data Lab – compare a variety of factors among states here
  • Freedom in the 50 States 2018  – Cato
  • Tax Foundation facts and figures app is available for download


What You Can Do

As detailed above, Wisconsin has expansive potential for engaging in civic-minded and fiscally responsible activity. By forming Policy Circles across the state, women can lead the way in ensuring that policies are working and responding to individual needs at the local level.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Click “It’s easy, start now” at www.thepolicycircle.org  to start a circle in your area.
  • Read our “Year of Conversation” for an overview of policy briefs on key issues affecting the country and your state.
  • Connect with The MacIver Institute, your state think tank and best resource for state level information on key policy issues. 
  • Tell a friend or family member in another state about The Policy Circle by sending them to www.thepolicycircle.org. Any woman who believes in the power of free markets to unleash human creativity can start a Policy Circle in her area.