Politics & Policy

Close Enough for Comfort: The Spatial Structure of Interest and Information in Ballot Measure Elections

Boehmke, F.J.; Branton, R.P.; Dillingham, G.; Witmer, R.C.


This study considers the importance of spatial context in state ballot-initiative elections. We argue that spatial context provides important information voters use to decide how to vote on initiatives with geographically based policy implications. Herein, we analyze tract-level voting on three California Indian Gaming initiatives. The findings indicate that voters located near Indian nations without gaming were less likely to support expansion of gaming, whereas those with exposure to tribes with gaming were more likely to vote in favor of its expansion. Further, exposure to gaming conditions the relationship between exposure to tribes without gaming and voting on gaming initiatives. Theoretically, the results suggest that spatial location serves as a proxy for the information that voters rely on when voting on geographically linked ballot initiatives.