A Study on State Lobbying: The Relationship Between Party in Control of the Legislature and the State’s with the Highest Lobbyist Growth Number

In our last article, we looked at the ten states we have identified as seeing the highest growth rate in the number of state lobbyists: California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Dakota, Maine, New York, and Delaware. In that article, we examined the relationship that growth rate had with the Party that held the governorship. We saw that the ten states were skewed toward a Democrat preference and that the trends indicated higher growth when Democrats were in charge.

Today, we examine how control of the state legislature affected these states.

In looking at these states from that angle, we again see a correlation between growth occurrence and Democrats leading the legislature. However, unlike the state’s preference for governor, we see that these ten states roughly followed the national patterns in how they voted for the legislature. Below is a chart with the ten states, the number of lobbyists each year, and the color coding of red for a year where a state had a Republican legislature, blue for a year where the state had a Democrat legislature, and purple for a state with a split legislature.

As noted, in previous articles, we do want to acknowledge that these figures come from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, an outstanding organization out of Montana. 



In the ten years of the ten states that saw the greatest lobbyist growth rate, 40 years were governed by Democrat legislatures, 41 years by Republicans, and 19 by split legislatures.

Over this time period, there was a 41.4% chance that a given state was governed by a Republican legislature- only 0.4% greater than the group of ten highest growth states.

Similarly, there was a 41% chance that a given state was governed by a Democrat legislature- only 1% greater than the group with the ten highest growth states.

While our previous study showed these ten states skewing Democrat in terms of the governorship, these ten states are representative of the nation over this time period.

In looking year over year, however, we do see a slight relationship between how the numbers grew and the Democrat Party holding the legislature. See the chart below.



Year over year, the correlation of party control to growth is slightly greater when it comes to the legislature than to the governorship.

In the 90 instances we are looking at where our ten states would have seen an increase or decrease in lobbying, the numbers grew 48 (53.3%) times. In states with Republican legislatures, the number grew 19 out of 37 instances (or 51.3%)- the exact figures with Republican governors. States with a Democrat as governor saw those numbers increase 22 out of 37 instances (or 59.4%)- nearly 5% greater than the figure for a Democrat governor.

Though a small sample size, these states were least likely to see an increase in numbers when the voters saw fit to elect a split legislature as those numbers increased only 7 out of 16 instances (or 43.8%).

As we stated in our previous study, 2011 was the year where the greatest number of states saw growth. Multiple states saw 2007 and 2013 as their years where the greatest number of lobbyists were registered.

Changes are often incremental, and we want to account for changes over the duration of party leadership. Below is a table looking at each instance where a party had consecutive years in control of the legislature- as well as consecutive years where it was split. As the tables above, it is color coded.


In seven periods of Republican leadership, the number of lobbyists grew by an average of 133.4 from the start of the term to the end of the term. Over the course of the seven Democrat periods the number of lobbyists grew by an average of 459.9 from the start of the term to the end of the term.

In the seven periods where legislatures were split, the number of lobbyists grew by an average of 72.3 from the start of the term to the end of the term.

Here, we again see a stronger relationship between growth and Democrat control of the legislature. With regard to governor, a period of Democrat leadership, on average, saw growth of 108.1 more lobbyists than a period of Republicans. As you see here, with regard to the legislature, that number increases to 326.5.

For the purposes of this article, we are not looking at individuals or any other correlation other than political party. However, the ten states that had the highest growth rate from Year 1 to Year 10 collectively saw Democrats correlate to a slightly increased rate of year over year growth and result in greater gains over the tenure of those Democrats. Again, we are not ascribing “blame” to the Democrat Party nor blaming the legislative bodies for the greater correlation we see here. We do, however, see a numerical relationship in this sample to growth occurring with Democrats at the helm of the State House.

Our hope, as we continue this study, is to foster a conversation, and we encourage your comments on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/takebackorg/. Please also continue to check TakeBack.org as we continue this journey.

[1] New Hampshire had a Democrat House and Republican Senate
[2] Oklahoma had a Democrat State Senate until the 2008 elections- the first time Republicans took control in the state’s history
[3] Democrats took control of the State House in Pennsylvania
[4] Republicans gained control of the State House in Maine
[5] Republicans gained control of the State Senate in Maine
[6] While the New York Assembly is solidly Democrat, the New York Senate has been mostly led by Republicans and has been back and forth in recent years
[7] Delaware had a Republican House and Democrat Senate

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