UT’s first year to participate in the longest-running election survey

Bonny Chu

For the first time, UT will join the University of Michigan in conducting the American National Election Study, the world’s longest-running election survey project.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $6.6 million grant to researchers from both universities to examine voter participation and decision-making for the next presidential election. 

“The project is the preeminent study of American elections,” said Daron Shaw, UT government professor and associate principal investigator of the study. “Involvement with the ANES raises our national profile and adds to our growing reputation as one of the leaders in the country when it comes to the study of public opinion and voting behavior.”

Ted Brader, a University of Michigan political science professor who will serve as the lead principal investigator for the 2020 ANES, said this survey is crucial because it is conducted like no other study. 

“One of the couple of things that makes this survey very different from most other surveys is the depth of questioning,” Brader said. 

The survey, which began in 1948, asks between 800 and 900 questions about individual’s concerns, religion, values and country perception to understand how Americans vote. 

About half of the questions are asked before the election and the other half are asked after, and the survey can be administered either in person or online. The results are later aggregated to the Time Series study, which is the collection of all the voter turnout data that could be useful for social scientists, teachers and policy makers. 

Team member Lindsay Dun, a UT graduate research assistant, said she is excited to be involved, even though the researchers are a long way from fielding the survey and are still currently proposing ideas and changes.

“I am honored to be able to participate and look forward to engaging further with the project,” government graduate student Dun said. “This is a valuable opportunity for graduate students in our department to gain experience with a very prominent poll in political science.” 

With his experience designing and executing polls such as those for Fox News, Shaw said he is also glad to partner with the University of Michigan in this survey study. 

“The Time Series has been invaluable for informing what we know about American voters,” Shaw said. “We are excited about collaborating with people like Ted Brader … given the prestige of this project.”