What is Public Opinion of Initiatives?
Public Polls and Surveys on Nationwide Initiatives
Polling data on this issue is sparse. However, the limited public opinion data shows strong support for the use of nationwide initiatives. Averaging the four polls, Citizens are 63.5% in favor and 21.3% against Initiatives.
- In a 1987 Gallup opinion poll (Craig, p271), the following question was asked of U.S. citizens: “Should we trust our elected officials to make public decisions on all issues, or should the voters have a direct say on some issues.” The responses were 76% in favor vs. 18% opposed, and 6% unsure.
- The Washington Post (Merida) reported a 1994 poll showing 64% of those interviewed favored a national referendum.
- In a 1997 Gallop poll (Witherow), a group of U.S. citizens were asked: “Would you favor a constitutional amendment, similar to the laws which 23 states already have, that would permit the citizens of the U.S. to place a proposed law on a national ballot by collecting a specified number of signatures on a petition and have the law take effect if approved by a majority of the nation’s voters?” The results were 57% in favor vs. 25% opposed, and 18% unsure.
- In 1999-2000 Portrait of America (POA) conducted a telephone poll for the Initiatives and Referendum Institute. It showed that in only four States was public support for initiatives and referendums less than 55 percent. In the 24 States with initiatives, support was 8 percent higher than in States without initiatives.In answer to the specific question “Should there be a similar process where citizens can place laws on the ballot nationwide?”, the response was 57% in favor vs. 21% against and 22% unsure, with a margin of error of ± 3%.
In view of the deteriorating public opinion of government, and in view of a growing awareness of wealthy special interest groups’ influence since these polls, today’s results may be even stronger. On the other hand, wealthy special interests’ abuse of the States’ signature petition method of qualifying initiatives may taint the public’s view of this planned Amendment. Any survey of support for this Amendment should make the difference clear—this Plan’s IQA method of qualifying initiatives cannot be influenced by special interests.