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Voters and Initiatives

- February 27, 2012

A Monkey Cage reader asks:

bq. I’m just curious, is there much information out there about what (if anything) precisely impacts voting on referendums or initiatives? And if so, what aspects of a referendum campaign are most effective (like advertising, phone banking, door to door campaigning, etc.). Any information and/or help locating any information would be much appreciated.

There is some work on whether the presence of initiatives on the ballot serves as a mobilizing factor.  See, e.g., here or here.  I’m not sure about work that specifically addresses what means of mobilization motivate people to vote in such campaigns.  I assume that studies of mobilization in elections generally would have some applicability, however.

On how voters make choices in initiatives, I think a dominant notion is that voters rely on shortcuts or heuristics.  See, for example, Arthur Lupia’s piece on the role of group endorsements — as well as other of his work.  Or Regina Branton’s piece, which highlights the role of party identification.  There are also other relevant pieces listed under hers.

I welcome other suggestions.

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