According to a recent Field Poll, which comes on the heels of similar findings in a PPIC poll, Californians still like the institution of direct democracy, although support has tapered off quite a bit over the years.
Over half those polled this fall think that statewide ballot propositions are a “good thing,” with only 13% viewing the process in a negative light. Back in 1978, on the heels of Proposition 13, 83% of those surveyed in a Field Poll said it was a “good thing.”
What do Californians like? By a margin of 56% to 32%, those polled support having propositions on general election ballots, which will be the case following the June 2012 primary election, as Governor Brown just last week signed Senate Bill 202.
The poll also reveals that a majority of Californians trust fellow citizens via the ballot propositions more than the state legislature to “do what is right on important government issues.” As I wrote back in September:
Reforming the initiative process in California is an easy task compared to the one really plaguing California. The real issue facing the state is whether the state legislature will reform itself so that Californians will regain confidence in the legislative process. This will take considerable effort, but until it is achieved, Californians will continue to invest their trust in the initiative process, as flawed as it may be. And if the legislature doesn’t clean up its own house soon, the citizens of California may take to the initiative to do it themselves.
If the California legislature continues to fail to govern responsibly, citizens (and corporate interests) will respond by turning to the initiative and popular referendum, as the mechanisms provide immediate response, if not ideal representation, of the interests of those living in the state.