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The Progressive Movement II: Initiatives and Referendums. Reader available after class, $20 Discussion ?s at end. The Progressive Movement II: Initiatives and Referendums. Roots of the Movement How Initiatives Work Formal Mechanisms Political Realities Perspectives on the Process.
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The Progressive Movement II: Initiatives and Referendums Reader available after class, $20 Discussion ?s at end
The Progressive Movement II:Initiatives and Referendums • Roots of the Movement • How Initiatives Work • Formal Mechanisms • Political Realities • Perspectives on the Process
Roots of the Movement • Coming to power in the wake of scandals at the turn of the century, “Progressives” were: • Moderate Republicans who split with the rest of their party. • Businessmen who wanted to bring technical expertise into government. • Political reformers.
Roots of the Movement • After successfully prosecuting Abe Ruef, the boss of San Francisco, Hiram Johnson was elected governor in 1910. • He brought direct democracy to the constitution in 1911: • Initiative • Referendum • Recall
Roots of the Movement • How does California’s direct democracy differ from other states? • Placing an initiative on the ballot is relatively easy here. • California’s initiatives are binding and the legislature cannot amend them. • Especially since 1978, we use the process much more than most states.
How Initiatives Work:Formal Mechanisms • Basic definitions. • An initiative is a proposal for a new statute or constitutional provision that is wholly drafted by a citizen and voted on by the state electorate. • A petition referendum delays and puts up for vote a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
How Initiatives Work:Formal Mechanisms • A compulsory referendum is a constitutional amendment or a bond that 2/3 of the Assembly and Senate put on the ballot. • These are consensus issues that generate campaigns costing only $300,000 and pass 69% of the time. • Initiatives are contentious issues that generate $7.4 million in spending on average and most of them fail.
How Initiatives Work:Formal Mechanisms • Step #1: Circulation. All it takes is an idea and $200 to officially register to circulate an initiative for 150 days. • 993. Confinement of Veal Calves and Pregnant Farm Pigs. Initiative Statute. FAILED to qualify. • 994. Confinement of Pregnant Farm Pigs. Initiative Statute. FAILED to qualify. • 1002. Referendum Petition to Overturn Domestic Partner Law. FAILED to qualify. • (SA03RF0081) “The Worker’s Compensation Reform Act” ADDED to Initiatives Pending with the Attorney General. Circulating: 25 Initiatives in circulation 4 Propositions qualified for the March 2, 2004, Primary Election ballot from www.ss.ca.gov
How Initiatives Work:Formal Mechanisms • Step #2. Qualification. Requires signatures equal to X% of voters in the last gubernatorial race. • Constitutional Initiative: 8% or 753,079 • Statutory Initiative: 5% or 470,675 • Petition Referendum: 5% or 470,675
How Initiatives Work:Formal Mechanisms • Step #3. Vote. It takes a simple majority to approve, and an initiative can only be undone by another init.
How Initiatives Work: Practical Realities • First Law of Initiative Qualification: Without $1-2 million, you cannot get anything on the ballot, no matter how popular. • Example. Even the furor over the killing of Polly Klass by career criminal Richard Allen Davis did not provide enough signatures to qualify 1994’s Proposition 184, “Three Strikes and You’re Out.”
How Initiatives Work: Practical Realities • Second Law of Init. Qualification: If you have $1-2 million, you can get absolutely anything on the ballot, no matter how wacky. • Example. Proposition 6, “The Prohibition of Horse Slaughter and Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption Act of 1998,” qualified and passed. The Sad Eyed Arab... Too Bad NobodyTook Him Home...
How Initiatives Work: Practical Realities • Big Money • In 1998, there were a dozen initiatives. Total spending on them was $193 million, with $92 million spent on Prop. 5 • Money Leads to Doubt. • Conventional wisdom is that campaign spending against an initiative has much more influence than spending in favor of an initiative.
How Initiatives Work: Practical Realities • Election Trends. • About two thirds of initiatives lose, but proponents are doing a bit better lately. • The more people learn about an initiative, the less they like it: • Only two initiatives have passed when they originally polled under 50%. • Rule of thumb is that if an item doesn’t poll at 80%, leave it out of your initiative package
Perspectives on the Process • Why do the “people” and lawmakers disagree? Two Constituencies Problem • The Legislature is apportioned to represent residents. Only 16.2% had household incomes of $40-75,000, and 32.4% were Latino in 2000. • The electorate for an initiative is voters. 36% middle class, 13% Latino in 2000.
Perspectives on the Process • How do voters make their choices? • Nobody reads the entire 350 page ballot pamphlet or initiative texts. • But the big money spent on initiatives does provide political information. • As UCSD’s Skip Lupia showed, people make decisions that reflect their true preferences by following cues from supporters and opponents.
Perspectives on the Process • Is there any room for compromise? • An initiative is a take it or leave it offer, leaving voters with only a choice between the status quo and the proposal. • They are almost always policy changes too extreme for the legislature to pass. • UCSD’s Liz Gerber showed that the threat of an initiative brought policy in line with people’s demands.
Discussion Questions • Eugene Lee presents a typology of initiatives. Are some types more legitimate than others? • Does the fact that all initiatives rely on an “initiative industry” of paid signature gatherers matter? • Are voters sufficiently informed to make good decisions on ballot propositions. Do television ads hurt or help?