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Memo
To: Members of the ANES Research Community
From: ANES Board of Overseers
Re: Update on the American National Election Studies
Date: April 22, 2002

We are writing with an update on developments concerning the National Election Studies and to ask for your input.

As you know, the National Science Foundation awarded funds to NES to support a study in 2004-which will use the face-to-face, pre-post design characteristic of previous NES studies-but did not provide funds to support a midterm election study in 2002. Since that decision was handed down by NSF last summer, members of the Board, in collaboration with other congressional scholars, submitted a proposal to NSF to support a midterm study. In late December, they learned that that proposal was not funded. Since then, Nancy Burns and Donald Kinder, the ANES Principal Investigators (PIs), have been working hard to try and secure funds from private foundations to support an NES study in 2002. Currently, proposals to support all or part of a 2002 study are being considered at five different foundations, and are at various stages in the review process. We do not yet know whether these efforts to secure funding will be successful, but we remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects. By mid- to late-June we should have received a final judgment from most or all of the potential funding sources.

Although we are uncertain about whether ANES will actually be able to field a study in 2002, we are still moving ahead with the planning process. This step is necessary given how little time we will have between the final funding decisions (June) and the beginning of the study's fieldwork period. As part of that planning process, we will be holding a study planning meeting in June, where final design and instrumentation decisions will be made. And as always, we seek your input into the planning process.

If our funding efforts are successful, the 2002 study will have the following features:

As you can see, this plan departs from the design used in past midterm NES studies in several ways. First, it empanels the 2000 respondents (something occasionally but not usually found in past NES studies), and supplements those respondents with a very modest sample of fresh cross-section respondents. Second, those fresh cross-section respondents are selected through RDD sampling methods rather than the traditional area-probability sampling design. Third, the midterm study is itself a two-wave, pre-post study, whereas past midterm studies used a post-election only design. Fourth, the total amount of interview time across the pre and post waves is 50 minutes, some 10-15 minutes shorter than the typical midterm post-election interview. Fifth, both midterm interviews will be conducted over the phone, rather than in face-to-face mode. Sixth and finally, the fieldwork will be carried out by a different survey research house (at Indiana University rather than at the University of Michigan).

All of these design features reflect the particular substantive and practical imperatives we face at the present. Empaneling the 2000 respondents, for example, is crucial to understanding the consequences both of the election controversy of 2000 and of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. A fresh cross-section supplement is needed to boost the overall sample size as well as to allow one to gauge panel attrition and conditioning effects. RDD sampling of the fresh cross-section respondents and phone interviews with all respondents are necessary to keep costs low enough so that any study at all can be fielded. A pre-post design serves multiple purposes, not the least of which is enabling us to use pre-election address information to pinpoint the respondents' congressional districts, which is necessary for asking many of the questions about congressional candidates that NES has carried over the years. These choices do not necessarily reflect the Board's position about how future ANES midterm studies should be designed. The plan in place for 2002 is a special plan for a special moment.

In moving forward toward completing the design decisions for a 2002 study, should we be able to field one, we need your input and advice. We hope you will write with suggestions on any or all of several key issues (or, indeed, on any other matter of concern to you):

  1. What instrumentation from the 2000 study must be carried on the 2002 study-in order to understand the consequences of the 2000 presidential election controversy, or of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or of the War in Afghanistan, the congressional elections of 2002, or even of other events like the Arab-Israeli conflict of recent weeks?
  2. What new instrumentation must be added to the 2002 study in order to advance these-or other important-substantive goals? What evidence can you provide as to the validity and importance of these items?
  3. What instrumentation typically found in ANES midterm studies is particularly crucial to retain, and what instrumentation can be considered lower priority?
  4. As already mentioned, time is going to be very short in the 2002 study (should it happen). Even with two interviews, the total interview time will be 10-15 minutes less than past midterm studies. So we will have very hard choices to make, and your input will be very crucial in the process. So, please let us know what you think. We would like to hear from you by May 31, 2002, so we can compile your remarks and distribute them to planning committee members before the planning meeting in early June. You can send your memo via email to anes@electionstudies.org, or by post to American National Election Studies, Center for Political Studies, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248.

    In the meantime, if you are going to be at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago later this week, don't forget that we are holding a public meeting to report further details concerning efforts to fund a 2002 study and to get your feedback on this and other issues. The meeting is being held on Thursday, April 25, 2002, at 5:30 in PDR 18 in the Palmer House Hilton. Please try to attend!

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