- Published on Feb 26, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $10 million to fund the American National Election Studies to study voter participation and decision-making in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, and in the mid-term elections of 2010.
The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), which has conducted the study since 1948, shares the award with the Stanford University Institute for Research in the Social Sciences.
"This new award allows us to move the ANES in new directions that respond to changing social, economic, and political conditions in American society," said U-M political scientist Vincent Hutchings, a principal investigator of the project. "The study design reflects the reality that political involvement and participation, as well as voter choice, are the outcome of an intricate, multi-faceted process rather than a snapshot in time. We will use the study to probe the extensive political and social dynamism of the period between 2009-2013, a remarkable period of American history marked by a dire economic situation, two wars, and the inauguration of the country's first African-American president."
Hutchings, along with co-principal investigators Simon Jackman and Gary Segura of Stanford University, will lead the four-year collaboration.
"When Stanford joined Michigan in co-directing the ANES in 2006, a key goal was enhancing its scientific value as well as its openness to scholarly and public input," Jackman said. "Wide-ranging changes were made to accomplish these objectives, including innovations in survey design and measurement and greater collaboration with a range of audiences. Having seen their positive effects, we look forward to building upon these directions in this next cycle."
The ANES is the longest political time series in the world, with data from every U.S. presidential election since Harry Truman's unexpected victory in 1948. An online Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior (www.electionstudies.org/nesguide/nesguide.htm) provides easy access to tables and graphs that display the ebb and flow of public opinion, electoral behavior, and choice in American politics over time. Complete data from the study are available for analysis by scholars and political analysts.
The 2012 study will include the customary face-to-face interviews with national probability samples of eligible voters immediately prior to and following the presidential election. The 2012 study will also include large numbers of African-Americans and Latinos. An internet-based pre- and post-presidential election survey will complement the traditional face-to-face study.
New to the current grant cycle, the ANES will also be conducting a series of internet surveys called the 2010-2012 Evaluations of Government and Society. The overarching theme of the surveys is to gauge political perceptions during one of the most momentous periods in American history.
"Perhaps the most enduring cleavage in American society involves questions of race and ethnicity," Hutchings said. "Given the central role of race and racial attitudes in American politics, it is essential that we assess the effects of the nation's first black president on racial attitudes and the racial divide in public opinion on a variety of public policy and socioeconomic issues.
"For example, are blacks more inclined to trust governmental institutions? Are they more inclined to have an optimistic view of the opportunity structure, linked in previous studies to political participation rates? Are whites less sympathetic to activist government on behavior of addressing racial inequities?
Other topics for all ANES surveys will be selected through submissions to an on-line commons designed to solicit input from a broad range of scholars. These could include questions on the economy, religion, health care, foreign policy and other topics that will emerge on the national scene in the near future.
"This outreach effort is important for many scholars of minority political behavior who have too often felt marginalized due to their tendency to be outside of the social networks traditionally associated with the project, and to the small number of minorities interviewed for the survey," Hutchings said.
Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is the world's largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology, and in educating researchers and students from around the world. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumer Attitudes, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world's largest digital social science data archive. Visit the ISR Web site at http://www.isr.umich.edu for more information.