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To: Members of the ANES Research Community
From: The ANES Principal Investigators and Board of Overseers
Re: Update on the National Election Studies
Date: July 10, 2001

Dear Members of the ANES Research Community:

The National Science Foundation has made some important decisions about the funding of the American National Election Studies, and we write today to share the details with you.

In early 2000, NSF issued a call for proposals to carry out election studies in 2002 and 2004, on a budget not to exceed $2 million. This budget ceiling represents a 50% reduction in the grant currently supporting ANES (1998-2001).

However, NSF has just told us that it is now prepared to award $3 million to the project over the next four years. These funds are to support an ANES time series study in 2004 following the traditional pre-post presidential design, with an area probability sample of U.S. citizens interviewed face-to-face. This is good news. It means that there will be a American National Election Study in 2004, with interviews taken in a manner that preserves the continuity of the time series and produces the highest possible data quality.

We understand that NSF reversed its earlier decision to cap NES funding at $2 million because that cap would have forced dramatic changes in the way the study is conducted, including a move to RDD sampling and telephone interviewing. Mounting evidence suggests that moving to an RDD/telephone design would seriously undermine data quality, force changes in instrumentation with substantial consequences for survey responses, and thus break the 50 year time series built first through the Michigan election studies and since the mid-1970s through the ANES. Some of this evidence was assembled and reviewed by a blue ribbon committee commissioned by ANES and reported in our proposal to NSF. Further evidence has emerged out of the mode experiment undertaken as part of the 2000 NES. After considering this evidence, and with advice from the research community and NSF reviewers, NSF has told us that it is convinced of the importance of continuing the ANES time series by carrying out area probability sampling and face-to-face interviewing.

NSF has also told us that all the money for data collection is to go toward the 2004 presidential study. The Foundation will not support a 2002 midterm study nor any pilot work focused on substantive and methodological innovation. This decision means that unless we are able to raise additional funds quickly, there will be no ANES midterm study in 2002. This would be a serious loss to the scientific community.

We will continue to work with NSF, and we will seek other sources of support as well to fund a 2002 study and to enhance the 2004 study, but time is short, and the outcome is uncertain. And we will continue to cooperate with election study researchers in other countries to permit cross-national comparisons using ANES data. Our goal is to maintain the core of our time series into the future in ways that will continue to yield exciting new insights into the working of democracy, here and abroad.

As always, we seek your help and advice. Please let us know your thoughts about the study at this critical juncture. We are considering a wide range of possible courses of action, and we would value your perspective regarding desirable ways to proceed. We will continue to keep you informed as our planning moves forward. To that end, we will hold a public meeting at the APSA meetings in San Francisco, on Saturday, from 10 to 12. We very much hope that you can attend.

Sincerely Yours,

Nancy Burns, Principal Investigator
Donald R. Kinder, Co-principal Investigator

Stephen Ansolabehere, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Charles H. Franklin, Member, NES Board of Overseers
John Mark Hansen, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Robert Huckfeldt, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Jon A. Krosnick, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Arthur Lupia, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Wendy Rahn, Member, NES Board of Overseers
W. Phillips Shively, Member, NES Board of Overseers
Laura Stoker, Chair, NES Board of Overseers