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The Political Environment and Ballot Proposition Awareness

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Studies that examine whether voters make informed decisions on direct legislation and whether direct legislation enhances civic engagement presume a basic awareness of ballot propositions, yet little is known about why some ballot propositions are more widely known than others. Despite the fact that research on awareness of ballot propositions and political awareness focus on individual factors, the political environment plays a vital role. This study seeks to advance our understanding of environmental factors in explaining awareness of ballot propositions. Using data on California ballot elections between the years 1956 and 2000, I find that the political environment has a substantial effect on voter awareness. Specifically, I find that the electoral cycle, media coverage, campaign spending, voter fatigue, the number of days before an election, and issues that concern morality, civil liberties, and civil rights contribute to ballot proposition awareness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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