Referendums are rare events in most parliamentary democracies, and when they do occur they present an analytical puzzle. Are they such unusual events that they fall outside of the theoretical frameworks familiar to students of elections? Or, even though they enter political life infrequently, can they be understood as something not entirely foreign to our thinking about electoral politics? Here, we argue that voting in referendums such as the constitutional referendum of October 26, 1992 is driven by many of the same factors that are present in elections—parties, leaders, issues, a campaign timetable, the interplay between long- and short-term forces and the dynamic of the campaign itself. In spite of their unique features, referendums can be understood in terms of models of voting behaviour familiar to students of elections in Canada and elsewhere. But, devoid of some of the long-term partisan and social anchors which play a role in elections, their outcome is even more dependent on the short-term elements of the campaign. As such, referendums are subject to greater volatility and uncertainty than that typically found in ordinary parliamentary elections.