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The Journal of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University


In 1993, researchers began to explore whether public policies in states with initiative and referendum mechanisms are more responsive to public opinion than in those states that do not have such mechanisms. There is yet no conclusive answer to this question. To examine this relationship, I add to the work of Kevin Arceneaux’s 2002 study, which utilizes public opinion data to analyze the responsiveness of state abortion policies to citizen abortion attitudes in states with and without initiatives and referendums. Additionally, my analysis looked to differentiate policy responsiveness along the lines of how difficult the implementation environment is within a state. My results showed that there is stronger responsiveness to public opinion in direct democracy states as contrasted to states with no initiative and referendum procedures. Further, I found measured statistical differences within direct democracy states when contrasting easy and difficult implementation procedures.

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