The Effect of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Engagement: Do Ballot Initiatives Affect Whether Voters Care About the Partisan Outcome of Congressional Elections?
Quinn, J. Arnold
While ballot initiatives have existed in the United States since the Progressive Era, their popularity has risen in the past few decades as more initiatives qualify to be placed on the ballot. Numerous studies have examined whether the political environment created by the presence of initiatives influences the way people participate in and pay attention to elections. This paper analyzes what effect, if any, ballot initiatives have on voter engagement using a multivariate regression model. The dependent variable expresses voter engagement through partisan preferences in the outcome of elections. This paper examines whether adding a ballot initiative influences whether respondents in the American National Election Study (ANES) Cumulative Time Series Study from 2002, 2004, and 2008 care about which party wins the Congressional election. These results show that, nationally, increasing the number of ballot initiatives changes the likelihood of respondents' expressing a preference for one party to win. Particularly at the upper and lower ends of initiative use, I found that an additional initiative is associated with a decrease in partisan engagement, even when controlling for respondents' partisan leanings and various demographic characteristics.
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