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California Journal of Politics and Policy

Managing Editor: Lubenow, Gerald

Ed. by Citrin, Jack / Cain, Bruce / Noll, Roger

The Paradox of Prop. 13: The Informed Public's Misunderstanding of California's Third Rail

Kimberly Nalder1

1California State University, Sacramento

Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 2, Issue 3, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.2202/1944-4370.1093, October 2010

Publication History

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Political science research has long established a list of factors associated with higher levels of political knowledge. Among these are: education, income, political attentiveness, voter participation, and age. This analysis, using questions from California Field Polls taken in 2005 and 2009, demonstrates that when it comes to comprehension of California’s Prop. 13, those who we would predict to be most politically aware are actually most likely to misunderstand the basics of the measure. Several possible explanations for this bizarre phenomenon are explored. This unique finding is especially interesting, since the misunderstanding persists 31 years after the passage of the still-prominent landmark tax measure.

Keywords: Prop. 13; misinformation; public opinion; knowledge; reform; misunderstanding; direct democracy; information effects; California; initiatives

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