, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 287-306

Campaign competition and policy responsiveness in direct legislation elections

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Many scholars, pundits, and reform advocates argue that more competitive elections are needed to produce policy outcomes that better reflect voter interests. We challenge this argument. Using a model of direct legislation elections, we prove that greater electoral competition is neither necessary nor sufficient for more responsive postelection policy outcomes. Instead, we find that more competition increases responsivenessonly if the additional competitors are both sympathetic to voter interests and sufficiently credible to affect voter behavior. If either condition fails to hold, then increasing competition will make votersworse off, if it affects them at all. We conclude that enhanced voter competence, and not more competition, is the key to greater responsiveness.