Polarization Without Parties: The Rise of Legislative Partisanship in Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature


Despite a long history of nonpartisanship, the Nebraska state legislature has polarized rapidly within the past decade. Using interviews and campaign finance records, we examine politics in the modern Unicam to investigate nonpartisan polarization. We find that newly-instituted term limits created opportunities for the state’s political parties to recruit and finance candidates in an increasingly partisan fashion. Social network analysis suggests that there is a growing level of structure to campaign donations, with political elites increasingly less likely to contribute across party lines. The results offer a compelling example of parties overcoming institutions designed to eliminate them.

State Politics and Policy Quarterly, (15), 1, pp. 67-90