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Daniel A. Smith and Caroline J. Tolbert, "The Initiative to Party: Partisanship and Ballot Initiatives in California," Party Politics, 7 (November 2001), 739-757.

First Paragraph:
Across the United States, voters in the two dozen states currently permitting the citizen initiative are increasingly serving as election-day lawmakers. During the 1990s, Californians directly shaped public policy by casting their votes on nearly 60 questions placed on the ballot by their fellow citizens. As with other initiative states, Californians considered a variety of contentious measures, from the well publicized battles over social service for illegal immigrants, affirmative action, paycheck protection and gay marriages, to the somewhat less controversial skirmishes over tobacco taxes, animal rights, bilingual education, criminal sentencing, casino gambling and electric utility regulation. In this article we examine the nexus between partisanship and the initiative process in California, a trend-setting state that has seen a record number of measures place on its ballot in recent years (Schrag, 1998; Tolbert et. al., 1998). We attempt to draw attention to the partisan nature of ballot initiative campaigns in the United States by exploring the role parties play in ballot contests and testing the partisan underpinnings of votes for and against ballot initiatives in California. While it is widely accepted that political parties in the Untied States have not been major players in most statewide ballot measures, the empirical evidence from California challenges this conventional wisdom. We find not only that political parties are becoming more engaged in ballot initiative campaigns, but that partisanship is one of the best predictors of individual and county level voters on ballot measures.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Impact of political party on vote for California ballot initiatives 1998 June Primary p. 748
Table 2: Impact of political party on vote for California ballot initiatives 1998 November general election p. 750
Table 3: Individual level data p. 752

Last Paragraph:
More broadly, our research raises important questions about the relationship between direct democracy politics and representative forms of government. As parties increase their involvement in the initiative process, and with partisanship as a significant predictor of voter preference on initiatives, the politics (if not the process) of direct democracy may be more like the legislative process than we currently acknowledge. As Chavez (1998) suggests in her study of Prop. 209, initiative politics and political parties appear to be becoming increasingly interdependent. A symbiotic relationship between political parties and initiative sponsors (interest groups) may be emerging, as parties are using ballot measures to promote their policies, hurt their opposition and increase turnout for their candidates, and , in turn, ballot committees are relying on partisan support (particularly endorsements and financial and in-kind contributions) for their measures at the polls. It seems reasonable to expect that this relationship exists in other states and nations permitting direct democracy, which we leave for others to investigate.