Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about ANES Surveys
No, this data can usually be obtained in the United States from state government websites.
Time Series studies refer to the surveys ANES conducts during most years of national elections (since 2004, only during presidential elections). These studies consist of a pre- and post-election interview. Topics cover voting behavior and the elections, together with questions on public opinion and attitudes. Pilot studies test content and methodology for forthcoming Time Series studies. Pilot studies have been conducted ‘between’ most of the Time Series studies since 1979. Special studies is an umbrella term that includes studies that don’t fall into either of the other categories. These include panel studies (where respondents from a previous study have been re-interviewed over time), collaborative studies (e.g. ANES-GSS 2020 Joint Study), and other non-standard studies.
The primary funding for the American National Election Studies is provided by the National Science Foundation.
No, ANES conducts scientific surveys, employing random samples, which are designed to observe voter behavior and public opinion. The ANES design is focused on understanding behaviors and attitudes, rather than on predicting election outcomes.
Maybe! ANES recruits participants using random sampling methods. We are, unfortunately, unable to accept volunteers.
I am looking for the number of registered voters in the U.S., the number of people registered to each party, final election vote counts, or other U.S. citizen or voter population data.
Some of these data can be obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Registration and turnout data are collected by the individual state’s Election Board. For election result data, you can also check with the clerk of the House of Representatives.
ANES surveys cover many topics, with a special focus on electoral behavior, political participation, and public opinion. Each ANES survey is a combination of questions that are new and questions that have been asked over a longer period of time. The questions asked in a particular survey can be found in the questionnaires that are published with each study. ANES studies fall into three main categories: Time Series, Pilot and Special Studies.
Time Series Studies: Since 1948, ANES has conducted surveys, usually administered as in-person interviews, during most years of national elections. This series of studies, known as the ANES “Time Series,” constitutes a pre-election interview and a post-election interview during years of Presidential elections, and, usually, a post-election interview only during years of midterm elections. Topics cover voting behavior and the elections, together with questions on public opinion and attitudes.
Pilot Studies: ANES Pilot studies test content and methodology for forthcoming Time Series studies in interviews that are usually administered by telephone. Pilots have been conducted ‘between’ most of the Time Series studies since 1979. Most often, a selection of respondents from the latest completed Time Series Study is interviewed.
Special Studies: Panel Studies have been conducted frequently by ANES, each collecting data over a selected time period of special interest. Panel studies reinterview a sample of respondents over the chosen period, for example during a specific election campaign in order to track changes in attitudes and opinions as the campaign develops and to examine the effects of events occurring during the campaign. On occasion, other ANES studies are conducted which do not fall into the other categories listed here.
Creating an ANES User Account
I recently created a user account, what if I did not receive a confirmation email – how can I access my account?
Please be sure to check your spam (junk mail) folder if you have not received your confirmation email. Confirmation emails expire after a few days. You can, however, use the “forgot your password” link from the ANES login page to reset your password at any time.
Knowing details about the composition of our user community can be helpful in raising funding and in improving our products and support. Registration also provides some additional protection to our survey respondents. ANES never provides your individual information from your registration to third parties.
Please try using the “forgot your password” link. If you don’t receive an email to reset your password and you have not logged in for some time, you may want to consider whether you set up your user account with a different email address. If you are still having difficulties, feel free to contact the ANES inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will help you try and resolve the issue.
You have the option to join the ANES mailing list when you set up your user account. In addition, you can click join our mailing list which can be found at the bottom of any page on the ANES website.
Understanding ANES Questions and Questionnaires
Yes, the ANES Question Search tool allows you to search all ANES Time Series survey questions. Search results show the question text (and the codebook record if available) matching search keywords.
ANES sometimes makes its questionnaire available to the user community during data collection, so that users may begin to plan their analyses. At other times, ANES is unable to make the questionnaire available until data collection is complete, if releasing the questionnaire earlier might have an impact on the data collection itself. Users that wish to replicate portions of unreleased questionnaires on their own surveys can send an email to email@example.com to see if the information can be made available.
During the pilot study and questionnaire development phases of an ANES study, the ANES frequently publishes a call for new content and question ideas. To become aware of such opportunities, please subscribe to the ANES mailing list and/or follow the project on social media.
Yes, the ANES Continuity Guide gives a visual representation of the years that a question has been asked over time going back as far as 1952. The Continuity Guide is organized by topic and has links to the frequency distributions for each of the years that a particular question was asked.
Applying for Restricted-Use Data
In order to preserve respondent confidentiality, some variables are not released to the public. A subset of these restricted variables (e.g. respondent zip code, respondent birth day) can be applied for via our partners ICPSR. Some variables such as name and address of the respondent are not available.
Each restricted data application is unique, however, for most standard requests, applications are approved and data can be accessed within two weeks.
Information regarding restricted-use data, including a description of the application process and available files, can be found on the Data Center page.
Using ANES Data
The best way to keep up with all ANES goings on including forthcoming data releases is to join the ANES mailing list. For those on social media, you can follow us on Twitter at @electionstudies.
Yes, ANES public release datasets are public goods. We ask that users provide a link back to the original ANES dataset from which your own variables were derived. ANES restricted-use datasets, and derivatives thereof (including replication datasets), may not be disseminated further, in order to protect respondent confidentiality.
Errata and other updates pertaining to a particular dataset can be found on the study page under ‘Data Alerts’.
Sample citations for most studies can be found at the bottom of the study page. Otherwise, citations should follow the following format:
American National Election Studies. 2021. ANES 2020 Time Series Study Full Release [dataset and documentation]. July 19, 2021 version. www.electionstudies.org
ANES has extensive and time-tested quality control procedures. However, despite our best efforts, sometimes errors happen. If you think you may have found an error, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of what you are observing in the data. ANES staff will be happy to look into any possible issues.
The Guide provides immediate access to tables and graphs that display the ebb and flow of public opinion, electoral behavior, and choice in American politics over time. It serves as a resource for political observers, policy makers, and journalists, teachers, students, and social scientists.
We use a sampling methodology that is scientific and probability-based but is intended to be representative nationally, not at the state level. It can be used to study different sub-populations (education, race, gender) at the national level if there are enough cases available in the sub-populations of interest. But we would not recommend using our data for representative state-level analyses or for analyses at any smaller geographic level.
For the datasets on which they are provided, weights correct for unequal probability of selection and for nonresponse to the survey. This makes the survey’s representation of the population more accurate than it would be without the weights. Therefore, always use the weights if you wish to generalize results to the population. For more information, please refer to the ANES Technical Report “How to Analyze ANES Survey Data”.
Some variables contain administrative data or paradata which do not originate from a particular question. For example, many of our datasets will contain a variable that gives the length of the interview in minutes. This data is computed from audit trail files we collect for each interview.
ANES Time Series datasets contain variables with data on gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, income, education level, employment status, among others. The non-Time Series studies will often have these variables as well but they may vary slightly from study to study.
Sample state, congressional district, and census region are typically available on the public use datasets. Additional geographic data such as FIPS county code, county name, zip code, and census tract are restricted in order to protect respondent confidentiality, but users can apply for special access to geographic data.
Some ANES studies are available for analysis using software developed at the University of California, Berkeley, as part of the Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) archives of the Computer-assisted Survey Methods Program (CSM). CSM maintains datasets in their archives at no cost to ANES or its user community, and we are grateful to them for this service. (Please be aware that datasets may not be as recent as those that appear on the ANES website, and ANES is not responsible for the SDA utility, the SDA data archives, or their use.)
Standard ANES data releases are available in ASCII, .SAV (SPSS), and .DTA (Stata). The ASCII data file can be used to read the data into a number of different applications including SAS, R, and Microsoft Excel. More recent studies also include a .CSV version of the dataset.
Once you have created an ANES user account, click on Data Center from the top menu. The Data Center page contains a list of links to individual study pages for Time Series, Pilot, and Other studies. In the top left corner of each study page is a box called ‘Download Data’ with links to the data in different formats.
Codebooks (PDF) for any given ANES study can be found on the study page. You do not need to be logged in to your user account to view and download the codebook.
ZIP files are compressed versions of a larger file or folder. ZIP files save storage space, are convenient and can be quicker to download. When you download a ZIP file from our Data Center, it is not immediately able to be opened.
If you are a PC user, you can right-click the ZIP file and choose ‘Extract All’ to unzip the contents. Select the location where you want your extracted files to appear and click ‘extract’.
If you are a Mac user, double-click the ZIP file and the uncompressed contents will appear next to the ZIP file. If you do this in a Finder window and don’t see the contents, try organizing by name or date modified.