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Date: February 13, 1996
To: ANES Research Community
From: David C. Leege, Chair, ANES Board of Overseers
Larry Bartels, Chair, 1996 ANES Planning Committee
Steven J. Rosenstone, Principal Investigator

The 1996 National Election Study

The Board of Overseers of the American National Election Studies is in the midst of planning the 1996 ANES survey, the latest in a continuous series of biennial election studies now spanning almost fifty years. The American National Election Studies are supported by the National Science Foundation as a national resource in the social sciences, and the Board welcomes the advice and participation of the social science community in planning the 1996 Study.

Study Design

At its meeting earlier this month, the Board set the broad design parameters and substantive themes of the 1996 ANES. The survey will consist of a 70-minute pre-election interview and a 70-minute post-election interview. Pre-election interviewing will begin on September 4th and continue until the day before the election, with a national sample of 1750 respondents divided into four quartersamples released at biweekly intervals. Post-election interviewing will begin the day after the election, with approximately two-thirds of the interviews expected to be completed within three weeks and a projected post-election sample size of 1490. We anticipate that two-thirds of the respondents will have been interviewed in the 1994 ANES survey, and roughly half of these will also have been interviewed in 1992. This study design will facilitate panel analysis of the electorate's reactions to the significant political changes of the last four years, while also allowing for detailed analysis of the dynamics of the 1996 general election campaign. In addition, as with all ANES surveys, much of the content of the 1996 survey will consist of "core" items asked repeatedly over the years to provide a basis for systematic analysis of political continuity and change on an even longer time scale.

Substantive Themes

The major substantive themes of the 1996 ANES survey will include evaluations of the performance of President Clinton and the Republican Congress, the role of issues in shaping and reinforcing each party's electoral coalition, public preferences regarding the federal budget, taxes and spending, federalism, and the scope of government, and the impact of the news media, advertising, and campaign events on public perceptions and preferences. The survey will include a variety of new questions developed and tested in the 1995 Pilot Study, most notably detailed batteries on the environment and media exposure and new items in the areas of budgetary trade-offs, uncertainty, and humanitarianism.

Study Planning

Planning for the 1996 ANES survey has been underway for well over a year, and has already benefited greatly from the participation of numerous colleagues from the ANES research community who wrote to suggest specific items or substantive themes, participated in ANES-sponsored conferences on The Impact of Campaigns (November 1994), Candidate Evaluation (December 1994), and Values and Predispositions February 1995), or contributed to the development and testing of new instrumentation in the 1995 Pilot Study.

The next major step in the planning process will be the meeting on March 29th and 30th of the 1996 ANES Planning Committee. Members of the committee are: Michael Alvarez, Larry Bartels(Chair), Charles Franklin, Donald Kinder, Jonathon Krosnick, Warren Miller, Wendy Rahn, George Rabinowitz, Steven Rosenstone, Virginia Sapiro, Laura Stoker and John Zaller. The Committee will produce detailed recommendations regarding the content of the pre- and post-election surveys that the Board of Overseers will review on May 17th and 18th.


Proposed Core Content for 1996 Election Study is a list of items and concepts that the ANES Board of Overseers has designated as presidential Core. These questions are the ones that the Board regards as necessary for understanding any given presidential election as well as for making comparisons across elections over time. These Core items will be asked in the 1996 Pre- /Post-Election Study and in subsequent presidential election year studies into the future. Other questions, of course, will also appear in the 1996 ANES. They will include questions developed in the 1995 Pilot Study as well as questions that are designed to tap the issues and themes that arise during the election campaign. (A special subgroup of the Planning Committee will be charged with monitoring these developments and identifying appropriate questions for the survey.)

This document is available via the World Wide Web ( under the link to the 1996 American National Election Study on the homepage, on the ANES ftp server as a MS Excel and text file in the directory, or by contacting ANES Project Staff (email: and phone: (734) 764-5494)

Each row of the core document corresponds to an ANES question; the columns indicate the presidential election years in which the question has been asked. In the interests of brevity, we have not attempted to reproduce the verbatim question wording, but rather have used a phrase or short sentence to capture the question essence. Each item is assigned an ID#. In reviewing this document, note that the Board has proposed to ask some items of a random half of the respondents. These items are indicated by "YES" in the column headed HALF SAMPLE. In some instances, the Board has decided that the concept is Core, but the exact measurement is not. These concepts are italicized. For example, candidate traits are Core, but the Board has not yet decided which traits will be asked (Item # 1040.1).

Advise the Board and Planning Committee

As is our custom, the Board circulates the draft core document to the ANES research community and solicits reactions and suggestions to the proposal. Thus, if you disagree with the Board's recommendations about Core -- in particular, if you do not find listed as Core an item asked in previous Presidential Election Studies that is crucial to your research -- please send us a brief memo in which you make a case for the questions inclusion in the 1996 Study.

The Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago will include a public forum on the 1996 American National Election Study on Friday, April 19th, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. The forum will provide another opportunity for members of the ANES research community to offer comments and advice regarding the scope and content of the 1996 Election Study. We hope you will attend.

The Board also welcomes written comments and advice addressing specific survey items, topical priorities, or broad study themes. In order to be efficacious, your advice and comments should reach the ANES staff in Ann Arbor by email, fax, or mail no later than May 7th (to be considered by the full Board) and preferably by March 19th (to be considered by the Planning Committee). We look forward to hearing from you.

An Update on the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems

ANES has joined social scientists from over fifty consolidated and emerging democracies to take part in the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems -- the most extensive program of cross-national electoral research ever undertaken. This international collaboration strives to advance the understanding of enduring and fundamental debates about electoral choice in ways not possible through the secondary analysis of existing data. The goals of this unique program of research are threefold: illuminate how electoral institutions constrain the beliefs and behaviors of citizens to condition the nature and quality of democratic choice as expressed through popular elections; understand the nature of political and social cleavages and alignments; and shed light on how citizens, living under diverse political arrangements, evaluate democratic institutions and processes.

Beginning in 1996, collaborators will field studies around national elections as they occur. Each national election study will include the CSES questionnaire module and questions designed to measure background characteristics of the respondents. (Thus, ANES will carry the CSES questionnaire module on its Post-Election Study.) Collaborators will code all these data to prescribed international standards and will deposit them in a central archive soon after the election. Simultaneously, teams of researchers will also collect institutional and political data for each country. All the micro- and macro-level data from each polity will be merged into a single, cross-national data set that will be freely distributed.

Social scientists from around the world have collaborated to specify the research agenda, the study design, and the micro- and macro-level data that indigenous teams of researchers will collect within each polity. This past summer and fall, the CSES questionnaire module underwent rigorous pilot testing in seven distinct political settings including the U.S. In December, forty colleagues from twenty-nine polities attended the CSES Planning Conference in Budapest to review the pilot study results and to finalize the questionnaire module, the background variables to be coded, and the macro-level data to be collected.

Copies of the questionnaire module, the Final Report of the Planning Committee, and other study materials are available on the CSES Website or from the ANES Project Staff.

The ANES Director of Studies

Santa Traugott, ANES Director of Studies since 1984, will retire from the ANES Staff this December. The ANES Board, Principal Investigators, Project Staff, and research community will suffer a great loss with Santa's retirement. Santa has shepherded ANES through eleven national data collections and six Pilot Studies. Under Santa's direction, ANES created the Cumulative Data File. We will all deeply miss Santa's savvy; her technical skills and wisdom as a survey researcher; her substantive understanding of ANES, her appreciation of ANES mission and history; and her dedication to the project.

As the result of an extensive national search, we are pleased to announce that Dr. M. Kathryn Cirksena will be joining the ANES Project Staff on May 16, 1996 as the Director of Studies. Kathy brings to ANES impressive skills both as a social scientist and as a survey researcher. Between 1980 and 1982 Kathy served as Research Coordinator at the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center. She helped create the Indiana University Survey Research Center where she served as its Co-Director until 1984. Between 1986 and 1988, Kathy was a Study Director and then Director of Computer Assisted Surveys at the University of California, Berkeley Survey Research Center. Kathy received her Ph.D. in Communications from Stanford University in 1991, was a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Timisoara in Romania between 1991 and 1992 and is currently an Assistant Professor, as well as the Director of the Communications Program, at Russell Sage College.

ANES Pilot Study and Technical Reports

The ANES World Wide Website continues to grow, with the recent addition of abstracts for all seventy-six of the ANES Pilot Study Reports (1979-1993) and all forty-eight of the ANES Technical Reports. The reports can be searched by author and by keyword. The most recent reports will be made available (full-text) on-line: the 1993 Pilot Study Reports are currently available; the 1995 Pilot Study Reports will be available online soon. ANES Website:

ANES Data Online

Our joint project with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to get data and documentation online is proceeding. The 1992 American National Election Study is available for researchers to run online descriptive statistics and to subset data for delivery across the internet to the user's desktop. The codebook, including all introductory materials as well as the appendices, is also available for searching and browsing. The 1994 ANES data set will be online soon, and the 1952-1994 Cumulative Data File will be available shortly thereafter.

The ANES Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior

To replace the American National Election Studies Data Sourcebook, 1952-1986, the ANES Project Staff is creating a new resource for the research community: the ANES Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior. The Guide will list marginal distributions for many of the most widely used variables, will break down those variables by critical demographic and political characteristics, and will provide graphs for many over time trends. These data will be available free to the research community via the ANES Website. The Guide will be an invaluable resource for tracing the ebb and flow of public opinion, electoral behavior, social and political cleavages, and political alignments over the last five decades. In addition, by providing the relevant variable numbers from the Cumulative Data File in each table, the Guide will facilitate more indepth analysis by interested researchers. We expect the Guide to be available by late Spring. Keep an eye on "" for updates.

The ANES Cumulative Data File

The ANES Project Staff is also currently working on an expanded edition of the ANES Cumulative Data File, 1952-1994. In September 1995 we released an updated Cumulative File which incorporated respondents to the 1994 Election Study. Since then, the Staff has been working on a major revision to the File that will add approximately 300 new variables. We also anticipate streamlining the accompanying documentation to make it more user friendly. Again, keep an eye on for updates on this release.

Are You Included in the ANES Bibliography?

We are in the process of updating the ANES Bibliography of Data Use and we want to make sure that everyone who has made use of ANES data is listed in the next edition. If your work using ANES data is not included in the Bibliography, please let us know. You can check the Bibliography by looking at the ANES Website (; the ANES ftp server, or the ANES CD-ROM. We would also be glad to receive a copy of your paper, as well as the citation for entry into the Bibliography. Send us the citation by mail (ANES Bibliography, c/o CPS/ISR, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248) or drop us an email at

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