Do polls show that the people want a national initiative?

Dane Waters
We conducted a national poll on in May of last year [meaning May 2001] asking the People if they would supported national I&R [initiative and referendum]. An overwhelming percentage said, “Yes.” I think 72% said, “Yes.” There’s a tremendous amount of polling data on our web site. Actually there are several Gallup polls, old Gallup polls from back in the 70s and 80s about national I&R. I mean, every national poll I have seen, everybody supports national I&R at whatever level, whatever question is asked so I would encourage people to go and look at those poll numbers. But an interesting thing about that poll we conducted, this is prior to Sep 11, we asked, “Prior to President Bush committing our troops overseas, would you want to put that to a national vote?” Forty five percent of the people said they would want to put it to a vote, 45% said, “No.” So it was evenly divided whether or not there would be a national vote. It’s also interesting to see that 80% of the women said it should go to the vote and 30% of the men said it should go to the vote. So that was interesting in itself.

Polling data is listed below:

The 1999-2000 Portrait of America (POA) telephone poll is described here. 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 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 1994, The Washington Post reported a showing 64% of those interviewed favored a national referendum.
Merida, Kevin. Americans Want a Direct Say in Political Decision-Making, Pollsters Find. Washington Post Apr 20, 1994; p. a.19
In a 1987 Gallup poll, 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.
Craig, Stephen C. (1996). Broken Contract?: Changing Relationships Between Americans And Their Government. Westview Press, p. 271.

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