The American National Election Studies (ANES) is a comprehensive longitudinal data collection. The ANES is responsible for providing gold standard data on voting, public opinion, and political participation in American national elections. ANES’s data are valuable for many reasons: they measure multiple variables; they allow complex comparisons across people, place, and time; they consistently and continuously leverage methodological advances; and they support dynamic hypothesis testing. Because ANES data have these attributes, they are used by researchers all over the world to answer questions that are vital to the health of American democracy. Through researchers who use ANES data, the ANES advances the progress of science and provides a vital service to the nation.
The project now known as the ANES has been collecting data and facilitating rigorous research since 1948. The project’s centerpiece is a series of in-person national surveys that are conducted in the weeks leading up to, and directly following, every U.S. presidential election. These surveys have been conducted using large sample sizes, many questions, and random sampling techniques. These attributes of the data offer researchers an opportunity to derive important discoveries from otherwise hard to see relationships between people, places, and circumstances that occur within every election cycle.
The sampling framework of ANES’s face-to-face presidential election survey has been relatively stable over time. This stability gives researchers an opportunity to produce important discoveries about the health and vitality of American democracy by facilitating dynamic investigations across elections and over longer periods of time.
While the ANES’ main survey has been conducted primarily using a face-to-face design where trained interviewers go into households to conduct their interviews, ANES has complemented this activity with other potentially valuable data collection strategies including the use of random digit dialing (RDD) in the last-quarter of the 20th century and web-based platforms in the 21st century.
The ANES has also introduced new study features from year to year, including the use of panel studies, oversamples of African Americans, oversamples of Hispanics with the surveys conducted in Spanish by bilingual interviewers, innovative experiments testing new methods for recruitment of respondents, collection of social media data of respondents, web-based parallel surveys, and coordination with the General Social Survey (GSS). The ANES also regularly evaluates the questions used in its surveys and updates them to be consistent relevant methodologies advance or to more effectively cover evolving national priorities.
The ANES is known and respected among public users, academic researchers, and survey experts alike for providing the “gold standard” of election-focused survey data. As a result, any organization that runs the ANES is expected to explore, develop, evaluate, and use the best techniques available at the time.
The Accountable Institutions and Behavior Program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences expects to make one or two awards for the 2024 American National Election Study (ANES), with the award to run from fiscal years 2022 to 2025. We anticipate that the ANES funding will total no more than $14 million over four years, whether it is one or two awards. The expected starting date is July 2022.
Updates and Announcements
Jan E. Leighley