Gallup: Americans Want National Referendums

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 03:26 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Most Americans want direct representation with national popular votes on important issues, a new survey has found.

The Gallup poll discovered 68 percent in favor of requiring a nationwide referendum on any issue if enough voters signed a petition to request a vote on it. Just 23 percent are against the idea.

Another 61 percent think presidential campaigns should be significantly shortened — from months-long affairs to just five weeks immediately before the November election. Just 33 percent of those surveyed disagreed with that idea.

And 58 percent of respondents believe there should be a change in the way presidential candidates for each party are chosen by holding a nationwide primary election on one day instead of by individual state primaries run over several months. Again, 33 percent of those polled were opposed.

"Americans have long supported specific reforms to the political system that would increase the influence of average citizens and decrease the sway of elected representatives, political parties, and special interest groups," wrote Jeffrey Jones, the survey's author. "Perhaps it is not surprising Americans would favor steps that would make their voices more influential in determining government policy."

The reform ideas tested in the poll were first proposed by company founder George Gallup in 1978, and were supported by a majority of Americans at the time. He also proposed three additional ideas — term limits, abolishing the Electoral College and publicly financed campaigns — all of which continue to attract widespread support.

"Nearly 40 years after Dr. Gallup proposed several reform ideas, few of these have become reality in the U.S. political system," wrote Jones. "It is unclear if Dr. Gallup's favored reforms will ever become reality on a nationwide basis, but Americans still largely view them as worthy ideas."

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