When Voters Pull the Trigger: Can Direct Democracy Restrain Legislative Excesses?

Legislative Studies Quarterly (2016, Vol. 41, No. 2): pp. 297-325

38 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2014 Last revised: 22 Jun 2017

See all articles by Vladimir Kogan

Vladimir Kogan

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 25, 2015

Abstract

Direct democracy is sometimes described as a "gun behind the door," but how do legislators react when voters pull the trigger? Leveraging the high-profile referendum defeat of a controversial law passed by the Ohio legislature, I examine how legislators respond to voter disaffection. Using interest groups to "bridge" votes before and after the election, I show that the measure's defeat induced moderation on the part of the Republican legislative majority, while leaving the behavior of opposition Democrats largely unchanged. The results suggest that direct democracy has the potential to restrain legislative excesses and alleviate polarization in state legislatures.

Keywords: direct democracy, public opinion, polarization, state politics, political reform

JEL Classification: D72, P16

Suggested Citation

Kogan, Vladimir, When Voters Pull the Trigger: Can Direct Democracy Restrain Legislative Excesses? (February 25, 2015). Legislative Studies Quarterly (2016, Vol. 41, No. 2): pp. 297-325. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2456809 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2456809

Vladimir Kogan (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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