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California Journal of Politics and Policy

Managing Editor: Lubenow, Gerald

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

4 Issues per year

The Limits of Citizen Support for Direct Democracy

Joshua J. Dyck1 / Mark Baldassare2

1University at Buffalo, SUNY

2Public Policy Institute of California

Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–20, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.1515/1944-4370.1199, February 2012

Publication History:
Published Online:
2012-02-24

Direct democracy is extraordinarily popular and has become a pervasive policymaking tool at the state and local level. Repeated surveys demonstrate that Americans strongly approve of allowing people to vote on citizen-proposed laws, a method currently allowed in about half the states and in many municipalities. This paper examines the extent of this support. Using dimension reduction techniques, we present evidence that demonstrates that with regards to approval of direct democracy, most voters find themselves in the middle. On principal, they approve of voting on ballot measures, but they express concern about campaigns and would support reforms. Opinions about direct democracy are unidimensional and close examination of questions demonstrates that Californians will express general support for direct democracy, but are amenable to changes to the process that would fundamentally alter its usage.

Keywords: direct democracy; initiative; referendum

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