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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 Impact of Direct Democracy on Governance: A Replication and Extension

1Department of Housing and Community Development, State of California, Sacramento, CA, USA

2Department of Public Policy and Administra­tion, California State University, Sacramento, CA, USA

Corresponding author: Edward L. Lascher Jr., Department of Public Policy and Administra­tion, California State University, Sacramento, CA, USA

Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 30–46, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, ISSN (Print) 2194-6132, DOI: 10.1515/cjpp-2012-0021, January 2013

Publication History

Published Online:


Does the state ballot initiative process affect American states’ ability to meet widely accepted standards of “good governance?” This question is relevant in many places, but especially in California which makes the heaviest use of the popular initiative. While much recent non-academic work suggests the process has ill effects in the Golden State and elsewhere, there has been little systematic scholarly investigation of this topic; the notable exception is R.J. Dalton’s work in 2008. Building on, updating, and extending his study, we examine whether the presence and extent of ballot initiative use affects Government Performance Project grades. Controlling for many other variables, we find a generally negative relationship between initiative use and such grades. This has worrisome implications for governance.

Keywords: direct democracy; initiative process; government performance; quantitative analysis

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