elite endorsements, decision making, politician job performance, ballot measures
Voters are thought to rely on elite endorsements in helping them make decisions. Their ability to use these endorsements is especially important in direct democracy, since ballot measures are complex policy proposals that lack partisan cues printed on the ballot. Using an exit survey, we look at California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of four Indian gaming measures on the ballot during the presidential primary election of 2008. We find that voters who had knowledge of the elite endorsement differed little from those who did not. We show, however, that Schwarzenegger’s endorsement was conditionally related to support for the measures, depending on whether or not voters approved of Schwarzenegger’s job performance as governor, with voters who approved of Schwarzenegger’s job performance being more likely to vote in favor of the measures compared with voters who disapproved of his job performance. Our results confirm that it is not just the knowledge of a cue that matters, but also the voter’s assessment of the endorser that influences the cue’s effectiveness.
Craig M. Burnett & Mathew D. McCubbins, Gaming Direct Democracy: How Voters' Views of Job Performance Interact with Elite Endorsements of Ballot Measures, 5 California Journal of Politics & Policy 627-643 (2013)