Political Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 411–435

Information and opinion change on ballot propositions

  • Shaun Bowler
  • Todd Donovan


This paper examines mobilization and conversion perspectives of opinion change during election campaigns. We demonstrate that opinion volatility during ballot proposition contests often reflects mobilization of awareness more than conversion of opinions. Furthermore, we find little support for the hypothesis that media spending affects opinions on the propositions examined here. An examination of other information sources suggests that many voters are able to use cues other than advertising when making decisions.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bartels, Larry (1988).Presidential Primaries and the Dynamics of Public Choice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berelson, B. (1952) Democratic theory and public opinion.Public Opinion Quarterly 16: 313–330.Google Scholar
  3. Bowler, Shaun, T. Donovan, and T. Happ (1992). Ballot propositions and information costs: Direct democracy and the fatigued voter.Western Political Quarterly 45: 559–568.Google Scholar
  4. Bowler, S., T. Donovan, D. Broughton, and J. Snipp (1992). The informed electorate? Voter responsiveness to campaigns in Britain and Germany. InElectoral Strategies and Political Marketing. New York: St, Martin's.Google Scholar
  5. Broadcasting Yearbook (1988). Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  6. California Poll. Field Institute (various years).Google Scholar
  7. California Yearbook (1988). Lakewood, CA: California Almanac Co.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, Angus, P. Converse, W. Miller, and D. Stokes (1960).The American Voter. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  9. Converse, Philip (1962). Information flow and the stability of partisan attitudes.Public Opinion Quarterly V26: 578–599.Google Scholar
  10. Cronin, Thomas (1989).Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum and Recall. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Democracy by Initiative (1992). Report of the California Commission on Campaign Financing.Google Scholar
  12. Donovan, Todd, S. Bowler, and T. Happ. 1991. Voting on Ballot Propositions: Information Costs and the Participation of Electoral Subgroups. Paper presented at the Southwestern Social Science Association Meeting, San Antonio, TX, March 27.Google Scholar
  13. Dreyer, Edward (1971). Media use and electoral choices: Some consequences of information exposure.Public Opinion Quarterly V35: 533–544.Google Scholar
  14. Gelman, Andrew, and Gary King (1993). Why are American presidential election campaign polls so variable when votes are so predicable?British Journal of Political Science V23: 409–451.Google Scholar
  15. Granberg, Donald, and Soren Holmberg (1990). The Berelson paradox reconsidered.Public Opinion Quarterly V54: 530–550.Google Scholar
  16. Hadwiger, David (1992). Money, turnout and ballot measure success in California cities.Western Political Quarterly V45: 539–547.Google Scholar
  17. Jacobson, Gary (1975). The impact of broadcast campaigning on electoral outcomes.Journal of Politics V37: 769–795.Google Scholar
  18. Key, V. O. 1959. Secular realignment and the party system.Journal of Politics 21: 198–210.Google Scholar
  19. Kramer G. (1983). The ecological fallacy revisited: Aggregate versus individual level findings on economics and elections and socio-tropic voting.American Political Science Review 77.Google Scholar
  20. Lazersfeld, P., B. Berelson, and H. Gaudet (1945).The People's Choice. New York: Duell.Google Scholar
  21. Magleby, David (1989). Opinion formation and opinion change in ballot proposition campaigns. InManipulating Public Opinion. Pacific Grove: Brooks-Cole.Google Scholar
  22. Shockely, John (1980).The Initiative Process in Colorado Politics: An Assessment. Boulder: Bureau of Governmental Research, University of Colorado.Google Scholar
  23. Sniderman, Paul, R. Brody, and P. Tetlock (1991).Reasoning and Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Stewart, Charles III, and Mark Reynolds (1990). Television markets and U.S. senate elections.Legislative Studies Quarterly V15: 495–524.Google Scholar
  25. Tedin, Kent, and Richard Murray (1981). Dynamics of candidate choice in a state election.Journal of Politics V43: 435–455.Google Scholar
  26. Zaller, John (1989). Bringing Converse back in: Information flow in political campaigns.Political Analysis 181–234.Google Scholar
  27. Zisk, Betty (1987).Money, Media and the Grassroots: State Ballot Issues and the Electoral Process. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaun Bowler
    • 1
  • Todd Donovan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUCRiverside
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceWestern Washington UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations