Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies

Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies

Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies

Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies

Synopsis

The American National Election Studies (ANES) is the premier social science survey program devoted to voting and elections. Conducted during the presidential election years and midterm Congressional elections, the survey is based on interviews with voters and delves into why they make certain choices. In this edited volume, John Aldrich and Kathleen McGraw bring together a group of leading social scientists that developed and tested new measures that might be added to the ANES, with the ultimate goal of extending scholarly understanding of the causes and consequences of electoral outcomes.


The contributors--leading experts from several disciplines in the fields of polling, public opinion, survey methodology, and elections and voting behavior--illuminate some of the most important questions and results from the ANES 2006 pilot study. They look at such varied topics as self-monitoring in the expression of political attitudes, personal values and political orientations, alternate measures of political trust, perceptions of similarity and disagreement in partisan groups, measuring ambivalence about government, gender preferences in politics, and the political issues of abortion, crime, and taxes.


Testing new ideas in the study of politics and the political psychology of voting choices and turnout, this collection is an invaluable resource for all students and scholars working to understand the American electorate.

Excerpt

John H. Aldrich and Kathleen M. McGraw

PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS provide insights into a very large range of social, economic, and political phenomena. In this book, we look at the survey itself as the means by which the scholarly community seeks to understand those phenomena. A survey can be understood as a collection of ideas at the forefront both of what the scholarly community believes to be important for understanding opinion and behavior and of how that community thinks those ideas may best be measured and evaluated. In this volume, we have the opportunity to report the results of testing a large variety of the best new ideas that the scholarly community thinks should be considered for inclusion in such a survey. These ideas were proposed for addition to the American National Election Study (ANES) and tested in a pilot study conducted in 2006.

Why should the reader be interested in such reports? The answer is that these reports are a major part of why the ANES is considered the gold standard among public opinion surveys. These reports constitute perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the gold standard, since they include the justification for the ideas that constitute the survey and, thus, the basis for the intellectual advances that the survey will offer. In addition, they reflect a return to a deep commitment to intellectual openness and an interdisciplinary search for the best new ideas and their translation into measurable projects. Survey research is in the midst of a particularly exciting time as new technologies are being added to these new ideas to create major ferment in the means and methods of survey research. That the ANES remains the gold standard is not inevitable, except by virtue of its commitment and resolve to be so. Let us begin by indicating how and why the ANES achieved its status and how this project seeks to extend that standard.

THE ANES

First used in 1948, the ANES has been in the field in every presidential election and nearly every congressional election since. It is supported by the National . . .

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