We examine group mobilization in direct democracy elections by assessing the conditions under which interests will actively support or oppose ballot measures. Motivating our analysis is that the decision to mobilize is driven by the costs and benefits of group participation, a calculus shaped by issue characteristics, state political institutions, and the electoral context. Using data from initiative and referendum measures appearing on statewide ballots from 2003 to 2008, we find that ballot measures involving social and tax issues are likely to produce competition among groups and increase the overall number of groups involved. In addition, we find that group competition and levels of mobilization increased in response to how difficult it would be for the legislature to undo the change brought about from passage of a ballot measure. Lastly, group competition and levels of mobilization increased for ballot measures appearing in nonpresidential election years and for ballot measures featuring a close election. Taken together, our results suggest that groups engage strategically in direct democracy elections to pursue a mix of policy and political goals.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 11, 2013
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