Demanding Choices

Opinion, Voting, and Direct Democracy
Shaun Bowler and Todd Donovan
Referenda are becoming a more common way to resolve heated political questions. This book shows how voters make choices in referenda


Referenda on important public policy questions have come to play a central role in policy making in many states. As cynicism about government has increased, many have sought to take policy questions out of the hands of elected officials and put the questions directly before the voters for decision. And yet many are skeptical about the ability of voters to make intelligent decisions about complex policy issues. Shaun Bowler and Todd Donovan present a searching and original examination of how voters make decisions in direct referenda. The authors ask if voters have some information about the issue easily at their disposal and if they make choices that seem sensible given their interests and the information they have. Looking at the way voters respond to different kinds of questions, the authors suggest that while direct democracy has its failings, the flaws do not necessarily lie with citizens being "duped" or with voters approving propositions they do not want or do not understand at some basic level.

This book will appeal to students of contemporary American politics and electoral politics.

Shaun Bowler is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside.

Todd Donovan is Associate Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Interest in the instruments of direct democracy (e.g., referendums and initiatives) has increased considerably over the last few years. . . . Debates about the advantages and disadvantages of these instruments of popular decision making often focus on whether citizens are competent enough to make important and often complex policy choices. Shaun Bowler and Todd Donovan address this central issue and provide a fresh, systematic, and theoretically guided look at this core topic. . . . Demanding Choices provides a thorough and theoretically guided look at the competence of citizens in direct democracy."
    —Simon Hug, Universite de Geneve, American Political Science Review

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 216pp.
  • 1 figure, 31 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08715-0

Add to Cart
  • $30.95 U.S.

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