Gaming Direct Democracy: How Voters’ Views of Job Performance Interact with Elite Endorsements of Ballot Measures

12 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2013

See all articles by Craig M. Burnett

Craig M. Burnett

Hofstra University

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Date Written: March 22, 2013

Abstract

Voters are thought to rely on elite endorsements in helping them make decisions. Their ability to use these endorsements is especially important in direct democracy, since ballot measures are complex policy proposals that lack partisan cues printed on the ballot. Using an exit survey, we look at California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of four Indian gaming measures on the ballot during the presidential primary election of 2008. We find that voters who had knowledge of the elite endorsement differed little from those who did not. We show, however, that Schwarzenegger’s endorsement was conditionally related to support for the measures, depending on whether or not voters approved of Schwarzenegger’s job performance as governor, with voters who approved of Schwarzenegger’s job performance being more likely to vote in favor of the measures compared with voters who disapproved of his job performance. Our results confirm that it is not just the knowledge of a cue that matters, but also the voter’s assessment of the endorser that influences the cue’s effectiveness.

Keywords: Direct democracy, cues, endorsements, referendum

Suggested Citation

Burnett, Craig M. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Gaming Direct Democracy: How Voters’ Views of Job Performance Interact with Elite Endorsements of Ballot Measures (March 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2238034 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2238034

Craig M. Burnett (Contact Author)

Hofstra University ( email )

Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.hofstra.edu/craig_burnett

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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