The Republican Central Committee recently decided that it would not change the manner by which candidates gain access to the Republican primary ballot. The decision not to change the rules creates a possible showdown with Count My Vote. The group may seek to place an initiative on the ballot that gives candidates access to the primary ballot if they can gather enough signatures from voters. This procedure would allow candidates to gain access to the ballot even if they fail in the caucus-convention process.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of a ballot initiative so far in advance. Public opinion on ballot initiatives can be influenced by several factors. The intensity of the campaign and the kinds of arguments made to the public will matter.
The Key Research poll conducted at the end of January offers some clues about what the electorate might do. It contained the following question: “Would you favor or oppose making it possible for political candidates to participate in a primary by gathering voter signatures?”
One of the proposals being discussed would allow a candidate who did not prevail in the convention to gather a certain number of signatures and appear on the primary ballot. Fifty-eight percent of registered voters said they would “favor” or “strongly favor” such a proposal. When those answering “Don’t Know” are removed, the proportion of those favoring such a proposal increases to almost 67%.
|Favor Access to the Primary Ballot through Signatures|
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Partisans differ in their assessment of the proposal. Republicans view the proposal less favorably than Democrats.
|Favor Access to the Primary Ballot With Signatures|
If there is a ballot initiative, those who favor change start with an advantage. However, as Dr. David Magleby’s classic work on initiatives demonstrates, the “No” side can easily overcome these initial advantages.
Click here to download a topline report that includes the full survey questionnaire, frequencies for each question, and a detailed methodological report (including details about the sampling as well as response rates and cooperation rates).