Support for Repealing Prohibition: An Analysis of State-wide Referenda on Ratifying the 21st Amendment
Social Science Quarterly forthcoming
Abstract. Objectives: The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealing national prohibition is the only amendment ratified by state conventions rather than state legislatures. The referenda held to select delegates for these conventions offer a promising source of data for identifying determinants of support for prohibition repeal. Methods: We use various proxy measures to determine the importance of economic, political, and demographic forces in motivating support for electing pro-repeal delegate slates to state ratifying conventions. Results: Urbanization, per-capita income, percentage of Catholics, and support for the Democratic Party were correlated with support for prohibition repeal. Neither the percentage of Evangelical denominations, gender distribution, nor foreign-born population appeared to significantly influence referenda returns. Conclusions: This study confirms the conventional understanding regarding Catholic opposition to prohibition and higher-income areas' support for repeal. The findings also indicate that congressional backers of repeal were correct in calculating that submitting the 21st amendment to popularly elected state conventions, rather than rural-dominated state legislatures, would improve the chances of ratification. Moreover, support for repeal among Democratic congressmembers and party leaders appears to have extended to rank-and-file Democratic voters as well.
Voting on Voting with the Feet: A Cross-County Analysis of the Tennessee Popular Referenda to Secede from the Union
Constitutional Political Economy 18: 83-97, 2007
Abstract. We analyze a unique case of voting on voting with the feet, when Tennessee twice considered secession from the Union in 1861 by popular referenda. The initial votes to hold a convention, and to send disunion delegates to a convention, failed, but after the Confederate states adopted a new constitution and the bombing of Fort Sumter took place, a second set of votes to separate from the union, and to join the confederacy, passed. Regression results support the importance of both economic interests and political tendencies, along with regional differences, in explaining the variation in votes across counties. Class distinctions were not found to be significant.
Explorations in Economic History 42: 529-546, 2005
Abstract. Little attention has been given to the cigarette bans that were enacted by many states in the late-19th and early-20th century. The recent study by Alston et al. (2002) represents the only empirical analysis of this issue. Alston et al., as typical for many other studies of historical regulatory movements, rely on legislative vote outcomes. In this article we examine the only occasion when a cigarette ban was put to a popular vote, in Oregon in 1930, and highlight the benefits of studying direct democratic votes to assess support for regulatory movements. To study the relationship between the anti-cigarette movement and other reform movements of the era, we compare the determinants of support for the cigarette ban with support for an Oregon alcohol prohibition referendum in 1933. Our results suggest that supporters of both reform movements were more likely to be found in counties with higher percentages of women, evangelical Protestants, and rural residents, which contrasts with Alston et al.'s study of state legislative behavior. In addition, greater support for alcohol prohibition in particular was found in counties with a larger percentage of immigrants and, to a lesser extent, more registered Republicans.