Direct Democracy and Political Efﬁcacy Reconsidered
Joshua J. Dyck Æ Edward L. Lascher Jr.
Published online: 20 December 2008
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008
Abstract Some studies have contended that direct democracy has secondary
beneﬁts unrelated to its impact on policy. In particular, recent scholarship claims
that the American ballot initiative process enhances political efﬁcacy. We began
with concerns about the logic and empirical methods underlying this conclusion.
We connect this research to the broader political psychology literature and in doing
so ﬁnd little reason to expect a positive relationship between direct democracy and
efﬁcacy. Our other contribution is to subject the empirical claim to more extensive
testing. In contrast to prior research, we draw from multiple data sources and
consider sampling methods. The results consistently fail to indicate that direct
democracy generally enhances political efﬁcacy. We ﬁnd cause for skepticism about
the secondary beneﬁts of the ballot initiative process.
Keywords Direct legislation Á Ballot initiatives Á Political efﬁcacy
On balance, is the presence of direct democracy beneﬁcial? This is a question that
has long interested political scientists and some other scholars, though systematic
empirical research relevant to answering this question is comparatively recent.
However, in the past two decades there has been a boom in such studies. Much of
the extant research has focused on the ballot initiative process in the United States,
J. J. Dyck (&)
Political Science Department, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA
E. L. Lascher Jr.
Department of Public Policy and Administration, California State University Sacramento,
Sacramento, CA 95819-6081, USA
Polit Behav (2009) 31:401–427