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Heuristics, Heterogeneity and Green Choices Voting on California’s Proposition 23*

  • Harold D. Clarke, Euel Elliott and Marianne C. Stewart


Ballot initiatives and referendums are increasingly popular methods for addressing important political issues. Studies of voting in these events has found that people rely on party leader and candidate image heuristics when deciding how to cast their ballots. Some analysts have argued that these effects are heterogeneous, being larger for people with lower levels of political knowledge. However, research in experimental economics and political psychology suggests that the impact of heuristics may be greater among more knowledgeable individuals. This paper investigates these rival hypotheses using survey data on voting in a ballot initiative to repeal California’s climate change legislation. Analyses using methods appropriate for studying interaction effects in nonlinear multivariate models demonstrate that candidate heuristics are stronger among more knowledgeable people.



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Harold D. Clarke, Asbel Smith Professor (, Euel Elliott, Professor ( and Marianne C. Stewart, Professor (, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75252. Financial support for the present study was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant #SES-1048117) and the University of Texas at Dallas. The authors wish to thank the NSF and UTD for their generous assistance. The survey data and supporting documentation will be placed on the authors’ website to permit replication analyses.



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