Risk and Reform: Explaining Support for Constitutional Convention Referendums [article]

William D. Blake, Ian G. Anson, Maryland Shared Open Access Repository, Maryland Shared Open Access Repository
2020
Scholars of comparative constitution-making and direct democracy agree that economic conditions affect public support for constitutional reform but disagree as to how. Prospect theory suggests both approaches may be correct, depending on the political and economic context in which voters operate. Fourteen states periodically ask their citizens whether to call a state constitutional convention, making this the oldest form of direct democracy in the United States. We test our theory in
more » ... heory in pre-election polls in two of these states and a survey experiment. According to the results, negative perceptions of economic and government performance increase support for conventions when voters view them as opportunities to correct problems. On the other hand, if a convention represents a chance to improve on an acceptable status quo, voters with positive performance evaluations become more supportive. Our findings contribute to the heuristics literature and inform normative debates over direct democracy and popular constitutionalism.
doi:10.13016/m27kwi-nlv2 fatcat:rqdah4ztwzdczohxykahjwlulq