ABSTRACT

This article explores the role of money in Michigan statewide ballot proposals from 1978 to 2015. Of particular concern is how spending patterns in ballot proposal campaigns compare to candidate-centered campaigns. Ballot proposal campaigns do not experience many of the influences that are associated with candidate campaigns. For example, there is no incumbency advantage in fundraising, or name recognition to help voters decide, and little or no political party involvement such as a party label on the ballot or party mobilization of voters. In the period investigated, we found that: ballot proposal campaign spending has skyrocketed; spending is greater with controversial ballot proposals; more money in Michigan ballot proposal campaigns was spent by those supporting a proposal than opposing a proposal beginning in the 2000s while the opposite was true before; and, although it does not guarantee a victory, money can have a meaningful effect when spent strategically.

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