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CHAPTER 6 Voter Response to the Initiative Logroll and the Counterproposition Having established that there are many readily accessible cues and information sources that voters use when reasoning about direct democracy, in the next three chapters we provide a more detailed examination of how voters respond to various elements of political campaigns associated with ballot initiatives. We begin in chapter 6 with a look at pre-electioneering elements of the campaign by modeling how voters respond to a proponent's attempts to build support by tailoring the content of an initiative, and how voters respond to initiatives that proponents and opponents have drafted in attempts to counter each other's efforts. In chapter 7, we examine whether voters respond to their party's campaign contacts and partisan interests during a campaign. In chapters 6 and 7 we find further evidence that voters make sense of ballot initiatives-they make decisions on the basis of how initiatives might affect them, their local community's interests, and their political parties' interests. Finally, in chapter 8 we examine how campaign spending affects opinions on initiatives. Contrary to the critique that "big money" is corrupting direct democracy, we find scant evidence that spending directly affects individuallevel opinions. Rather, we suggest that campaign spending increases awareness ofissues, and it might create a context in which voters who typically do not reason on the basis of ideology are allowed to do so. Voter confusion in direct democracy can come from several sources that are independent of the inherent complexity of a given ballot issue. Confusion and vote "manipulation" are often assumed to be products of the way in which proponents and/or ballots frame an issue. Outcomes in proposition elections are thus seen as occasionally being a function of strategies used to frame choices (Magleby 1984; Cronin 1989). In this chapter we test how voters respond to two strategies used by initiative proponents in framing ballot questions: the use of logrolling and the use of counterpropositions. Both logrolling and counterpropositions represent strategies thatcombatants can choose when contesting ballot measures. Logrolling-packing a bill with additional items to generate greater support-might be expected to contribute to the building of a winning coalition. Conversely, the use of countermeasures might improve the odds of defeating a measure by increasing voter confusion about a 107 108 Demanding Choices rival's proposal and deflecting campaign resources from the rival's campaign effort . We begin with a discussion of two of these strategies adopted by initiative proponents, and then we use aggregate and individual-level data to test voter responsiveness to these strategies. Next we examine how voters respond to information that is unique to specific geographic areas when they evaluate rival proposals . As we saw in chapter 5, voters can use instrumental evaluations when assessing some tax and spending referenda. Here, we test whether aggregated historical data provide evidence consistent with the idea that voters evaluate propositions in terms of a proposal's potential economic effects even when rival measures appear on the same ballot. Results are consistent with what we might see if voters evaluated the impact of a proposition on themselves or on the local economy on the basis of instrumental evaluations. Such results are noteworthy because they come from the context of competing propositions that are expected to breed voter confusion. While the phenomenon is not limited to contemporary initiative campaigns, some recent elections have been distinguished by the simultaneous appearance ofrival propositions on the same topic (Lupia 1994a; Banducci 1992; see also Lowenstein 1983). In California, an additional innovation is the issuing of public debt with the citizens' initiative. As we will see, the use of the initiative logroll is not new (Lowenstein 1983); however, its use for issuing bond debt for public projects is. The use of such distributive logrolling presents an interesting arena for testing whether voters are responsive to localized public goods enumerated in an initiative. We test whether voter opinions about one such initiative appear responsive to the objective levels of benefits targeted to the area in which the voter resides. One of the more rigorous criteria we can use to assess voters' reasoning about ballot propositions is whether opinions are associated with information about the narrow policy details contained in ballot propositions. In this case, we can see that some people apparently decide whether they are in favor of a proposition on the basis ofknowing something about the proposition's content . We see, once again, that well-educated voters might evaluate...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780472023349
Related ISBN
9780472087150
MARC Record
OCLC
665834046
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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