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incompetence, would not be supported by the data. Hence, the null hypothesis is posited: i.e., there will be no difference in legislative quality between highuse initiative states and low-use initiative states, or between initiative states and non-initiative states. Table 9 graphically depicts the rankings of the various states on the overall quality, the functional quality and the accountability quality of high-use, low-use, and non-initiative state legislatures. 20
For the most part, the null hypothesis can be acceped, i.c., there is little difference in the quality (overall, or accountable) between high-use and lowuse initiative states or between initiative and non-initiative states. Hence, the conventional wisdom view that frequent initiative use denotes legislative ineptness or failure can, at least, be questioned. And, in fact, on the functional criterion, high-use states were different by statistically significant proportions and a = .61 from low-use states but in the opposite direction predicted by the conventional wisdom view. In other words, by a statistically significant margin high-use initiative states had more functional (effective) legislatures than low-use states.
Secondly, another frequently expressed conventional wisdom view of initiative use revolves around the notion of voter dissatisfaction and frustration. It is contended that in states where initiatives tend to be used, voter demands have been thwarted by the legislature. Because of legislative dalliance or inaction, voters are forced to resort to the ballot box to bypass legislative roadblocks. Thus, according to this view, citizens in these high-use initiative states would tend to be more bitter and frustrated with their life styles than citizens in low-initiative states.
In 1973, the Midwest Research Institute, in a very provocative study, ranked states on a "Quality of Life" index." High-use and low-use initiative states are compared in Table 10 using the "Quality of Life" Index." It was suspected by this writer, that contrary to the conventional wisdom view, there would be little difference found beween high-use and low-use states on this index. Hence, the null hypothesis is posited: there will be no difference between high-use and low-use initiative states on the "Quality of Life” ranking. Additionally, initiative states and non-initiative states are compared on this ranking as well. Table 10 lists the results of these tabulations.
The second null-hypothesis can be rejected. There is a difference in "Quality of Life" rankings between high-use and low-use states, but not in the direction of the folk wisdom view, i.e., that citizens in high-use states would tend to be frustrated and embittered and have poor lifestyles because their legislatures had not acted. Instead, by a statistically significant score and by a
It should be kept in mind the C.C.S.L. rankings were conducted in the late 1960s, while the initiative data was collected from the 1962-72 period. Thus, the two do not completely coincide. Table 9 lists the results of these tabulations.
"Ben-Chieh Lieu, "The Quality of Life in the United States, 1970: Index Rating, and Statistics," a report of the Midwest Research Institute (Kansas City: Midwest Research Institute).
"Again the Midwest Research Institute did its Study in 1973, while the initiative data came from the 1962-73 time period.
= .51, "Quality of Life" rankings in the high-use initiative states were higher than "Quality of Life" rankings in the low-use states. Additionally, initiative states and non-initiative states did not differ in statistically significant proportions, but a = .36 does suggest at least some association between initiative states and high "Quality of Life" ranking.
Third, another view of the initiative process, and a primarily academic view, is that high-use initiative states tend to be less innovative than low-use states because of the debilitating and limiting effect persistent initiative use has on state government. As Keefe and Ogul comment:
Much has been published about the details of these devices (the initiative and the referendum) our point will be confined simply to the view that they are cut out of the same cloth as other restrictions, that they encroach upon legislative authority and that occasionally they lead to legislative timidity and irresponsibility, manifestly, they add nothing to legislative initiative or autonomy."
William J. Keefe and Morris S. Ogul The American Legislative Process: Congress and the States (3rd ed. rev. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1973), p. 41.
Thus, the traditional academic view would seem to suggest that initiatives have a dampening effect on a state's legislature in initiating policy and in innovative efforts. However, this writer suspected that this would not be the case and, hence, the null-hypothesis is proposed: i.e., there will be no difference between high-use and low-use states so far as innovation is concerned or between initiative and non-initiative states.
In order to test this hypothesis, states were compared using two different innovation indexes, Jack Walker's composite Innovation Rank for States and Virginia Gray's Overall Average Innovation Rank."
"The two separate rankings of states in terms of innovation were compiled separately by Jack L. Walker and Virginia Gray. Walker first suggested that states could be ranked in terms of the diffusion of new programs among the states in a sort of ripple effect. Jack L. Walker, "The Diffusion of Innovations Among the American States," American Political Science Review, 63 (September 1969), 880-89. In a later article Gray raised some questions concerning the Walker innovation rankings by tracing through adoption patterns of states on particular issues and taking into account political and economic factors and she proposes her own Overall Average Rank of States. The author agrees with Gray
It should be noted that the Walker Innovation Index was based on adoption patterns on 88 separate programs over a 100-year period, while the Gray Overall Average Rank was based on how states rank on three prime issue areas education, welfare and civil rights-aver a similar time span. The rankings in this study were computed using the 1962-72 time period for initiative qualifying.
Again, the null hypothesis can be accepted in Table 11; there was little statistical difference on the U score and the Theta found between high-use and low-use states on the innovation rankings, or between initiative and non-initiative states.
Lastly, based solely on the Californian experience, several other supposed shortcomings of the initiative process can at least be questioned. It has been contended repeatedly that the initiative, rather than being a citizen weapon, has become a vehicle for special interests. For example, Owens, Constantini and Wechsler express this view when they state:
Such [initiative] campaigns are very expensive and have become highly sophisticated. Only well-organized, rather affluent coalitions of interests can afford to pursue the kinds of professional public relation campaigns associated with most ballot measures. The campaigns are often bitter, emotional contests in which the voter is not likely to make a choice between carefully argued positions. Instead, the voter is likely to be asked to respond to false images and half-truths. Finally, it is relatively easy for an interest group to put a measure on the ballot.
However, recent California experiences with initiatives suggest this may no longer be true. Clearly, poorly organized and less affluent California groups have been able to place measures on the ballot-the marijuana initiative, Proposition 18 in 1972; the coastal initiative, Proposition 20 in 1972; the environmental initiative, Proposition 9 in June 1970; and others. Moreover, voters do not seem as easly misled by deceptive advertising or expensive campaigns as was once thought. In 1972 on a number of key initiatives, and in 1973 on Governor Reagan's tax initiative, the side with the most money actually lost. California's well-educated voters seemed far more able to cope with intricate initiatives than had been presumed by political scientists." It may be that the
that states may be innovative at one point in time but not in another, and the Walker rankings with their aggregated tabulations over a lengthy period do not always show this. For example, Oregon over the last several years has led the way in proposing environmental legislation to be later borrowed by other states; yet, it ranks 23rd in the Walker ranking (13th in the Gray rankings). See Virginia Gray, "Innovations in the States: A Diffusion Study," American Political Science Review, 67 (December 1973), 1174-85; the Walker comment, "Comment: Problems in Research on the Diffusion of Policy Innovation," pp. 1186-91; and the Gray "Rejoinder, to 'comment' by Jack L. Walker," pp. 1192-93.
"John R. Owens, Edmund Constantini, and Louis F. Weschler, California Politics and Parties (Toronto: Macmillan, 1970), p. 273.
"John Mueller, "Voting on the Propositions: Ballot Patterns and Historical Trends in California," American Political Science Review, 63 (December 1969), 1197-1212, comes to similar conclusions in his study. For example, he notes that California voters do not blindly follow the newspaper endorsements of the metropolitan press as had been frequently asserted or that they vote negatively on all issues.
surprising voting results on initiatives over the last several years is a temporary phenomenon, but for whatever the reasons, the easy assertions about the apathy, indifference, and susceptible nature of voters can at least be questioned by the California experience. Hopefully, other political scientists in the future will begin to analyze in depth initiative voting behavior in order to test some of these questions.
There is little question that the initiative has been and continues to be primarily a western development. Only a few states outside the western half of the United States allow for the initiative, and in the few that do, it is used infrequently. On the other hand, most western states do provide for the initiative and extensive use is strictly a western phenomenon. Overall, there seem to be three separate types of initiative state: first, those where the initiative has been used persistently, though in some cases in somewhat reduced form, over the long time period the initiative has been in effect; second, those where the initiative was used during the first decades after initiative adoption but has since dropped off substantially; and third, those states where the initiative has never been used extensively.
In some states like California, Oregon, Washington or Colorado, the initiative has become commonplace. It has become merely another almost routine part of the legislative process. Groups and individuals in these states have become skilled in the intricacies of organizing massive signature-gathering campaigns and in persuading voters. These features do not seem to be the pattern in most initiative states. Additionally, it was noted that there did not appear to be any relationship between the difficulty of a state's legal requirements to qualify an initiative, and the number of initiatives qualifying in that
In order to summarize most clearly the findings of this study, Table 12 has been constructed. In the table the various potential factors which did or did not relate to initiative use are listed. If a positive or negative association was found, it is listed as "positive" in the High-Low (high-use versus low-use initiative states) column or, in the Yes-No (initiative states versus non-iniative states) column.
We have found that weak legislative parties and two-party systems associate with initiative states. It was also discovered that strong pressure group systems, the C.C.S.L. functional criterion, and high "Quality of Life" associated with high-use initiative states. It should also be added that some of the potential factors approached statistical significance or had relatively high association scores, and, hence showed a possible relationship. However, for the most part the "negative" conclusion suggests there is little if any relationship between a potential factor and high-low, or initiative-non-initiative states.
Finally, the most important overall conclusion of this study is to question the prevailing negative assessment of initiatives held by politicians, not unexpectedly, and academics and journalists as well. The various conventional