Frequently Asked Questions

Studies and Data (14)

ANES is primarily a data collection organization and produces no summary analysis based on any data (including our own). None of our studies are confined to a single topic, although all are concerned with electoral behavior, political participation, and public opinion. Studies are grouped into 3 categories:

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.

Did you just try to register for the first time?

When you complete the Data Registration form, you’ll receive a confirmation email from ANES. Follow the link at the bottom of the message to create your password. Go back to the ANES Data Center and use that same email and password to login. The confirmation emails expire after a few days. Although if the confirmation email expires, you can easily go back to the Data Center and follow the link to ‘forgot my password’ link to set your password.

Have you already registered but your password doesn’t work?

ANES staff can’t access password records. Please follow the ‘forgot your password’ link to set a new one.

Your system says my account doesn’t exist.

Is it possible you used another email account to register? You might try to login with a second email address and see if that works. But if you follow the forgot your password link and see the same error message, you are not in our system. We regret the inconvenience, but you’ll need to register again and create a password.

At the top menu, click on Resources and then ANES Question Search. This tool searches question text and if available, the study codebooks. More generally, a study’s codebook can be searched, either by downloading the codebook as part of the zipped release file for the study or else by accessing the codebook from a link on the study’s Study Page. Links to Study Pages are available from the Data Center.

Every study has a Study Page which includes a link to documented updates and errata for the current release. Links to Study Pages are available from the Data Center.

Select Data Center from the top menu. You must register and login to view the links and download data.

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.

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.)

ANES is primarily a data collection organization and produces no reports or summary analysis based on any data (including its own). None of our studies are confined to a single topic, although all are concerned with electoral behavior, political participation, and public opinion. The possibilities for types of analysis are too numerous to count. We provide raw data (the individual-level responses to the questions appearing in our surveys) for academics, students, and other interested persons for use in their own research, typically using statistical software. Anyone can download ANES raw data for free and conduct their own research. Besides raw data, the only summary information made available by ANES is the subset of tables in the Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior, which displays simple output for a selection of variables representing individual questions that have been asked over a series of years in the ANES Time Series.

We have tried to minimize the danger of breaches of respondent anonymity by aggregating critical variables such as geographic location and occupation/industry up to less specific levels than those provided by the respondent. Public-use data are available for download from the Data Center. The risk of disclosure of confidential information of research participants is minimal for these datasets.

In some cases, the removal of potentially identifying information would significantly impair the analytic potential of the data. Access to these data is only granted following an application process designed to ensure that this sensitive information is released only to people who meet stringent conditions.

Learn how to apply for restricted data access.

ANES items identified as Restricted Data are not publicly released and are available only under specific contractual conditions. We have tried to minimize the danger of breaches of respondent anonymity in both unrestricted and restricted datasets by aggregating critical variables such as geographic location and occupation/industry up to less specific levels than those provided by the respondent. Access to Restricted Data can be requested only through this detailed application process.

It is ANES policy that we do not release the content of the current questionnaire to the public before the election. However, to facilitate coordination with other election studies, ANES will respond to inquiries about whether or not specific questions will appear on a study that is not yet in the public domain. Such requests must be made about specific questions (rather than the questionnaire as a whole) and the requestor must sign an agreement not to publicize in any way the fact that ANES is the source of the questions until after the full questionnaire has been publicly posted on the ANES website. Please read our full policy statement.

No, ANES conducts scientific surveys to observe voter behavior and public opinion.

A ZIP file is a compressed version 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’re on a PC, 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’re on a Mac, 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.

Are you unzipping your restricted data file?

Restricted data files are zipped and encrypted. You’ll need a password to unzip and open these files. The software you use to unzip your data must prompt you for a password. If you don’t see the prompt, try using different software.

The ANES greatly values the trust our respondents place in us to protect their confidentiality. We have tried to minimize the danger of breaches to respondent anonymity in our datasets by aggregating critical variables such as geographic location and occupation/industry up to less specific levels than those provided by the respondent. In addition to these precautions, our login process requires users to acknowledge acceptance of the terms of data use.

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General (9)

The American National Election Studies (www.electionstudies.org). These materials are based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers SES 1444721, 2014-2017, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University.

Did you just try to register for the first time?

When you complete the Data Registration form, you’ll receive a confirmation email from ANES. Follow the link at the bottom of the message to create your password. Go back to the ANES Data Center and use that same email and password to login. The confirmation emails expire after a few days. Although if the confirmation email expires, you can easily go back to the Data Center and follow the link to ‘forgot my password’ link to set your password.

Have you already registered but your password doesn’t work?

ANES staff can’t access password records. Please follow the ‘forgot your password’ link to set a new one.

Your system says my account doesn’t exist.

Is it possible you used another email account to register? You might try to login with a second email address and see if that works. But if you follow the forgot your password link and see the same error message, you are not in our system. We regret the inconvenience, but you’ll need to register again and create a password.

No, ANES conducts scientific surveys to observe voter behavior and public opinion.

No, this data can usually be obtained from state government websites.

ANES is primarily a data collection organization and does NOT, as an organization, offer expert opinion on elections, politics, or any other topics. For expert opinion, you must consult a career specialist whose expertise covers the topic in which you are interested. Such specialists may be found at most universities and colleges, and at institutions dedicated to expert analysis and study of the topic.

ANES is not a source of factual population data on registration, eligibility, turnout, or vote. We are primarily a data collection organization for surveys, and all information in our data represents self-report by respondents who are selected as part of relatively small samples.

Data for population registration and turnout are collected at the state level by the state’s Election Board (which is often part of the Secretary of State office). For election result data, you can also check with the clerk of the House of Representatives.

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.

A ZIP file is a compressed version 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’re on a PC, 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’re on a Mac, 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.

Are you unzipping your restricted data file?

Restricted data files are zipped and encrypted. You’ll need a password to unzip and open these files. The software you use to unzip your data must prompt you for a password. If you don’t see the prompt, try using different software.

There are two ways to subscribe to the ANES mailing list.

First, click Join our mailing list on the bottom of each page. Fill out the form and you will receive a welcome message confirming your subscription.

Mailing list subscription button   Mailing list subscription form   Mailing list subscription confirmation

Second, you can add yourself to the list when you register for the ANES website.

Data registration form

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