Another Look at Legislative Professionalization
and Divided Government in the States
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXII:417-32
Does the professionalization of state legislatures lead to more instances of divided government? Fiorina (1994) persuasively argues that it does. In this article I reexamine that relationship, looking at divided government in the states from 1960 to 1990, the years of the professionalization movement. I argue that few state legislatures are professionalized. But, while most of the other state legislatures have been professionalizing, they have few of the characteristics we would expect of legislatures where entrenched incumbents are equipped to fend off changing political tides the way we expect congressional incumbents to be able to do. I then test several variations on the hypothesis that the level of professionalization is linked to the incidence of divided government. Although some results lend support to the general hypothesis, overall the relationship is not very robust. I conclude by suggesting several reasons for the weak results, pointing in particular to the rise of candidate-centered gubernatorial campaigns and the adoption of professional-like behavior on the part of state legislators in every sort of institutional setting.