University of Michigan: U-M’s American National Election Studies awarded $14M to study 2024 elections

The American National Election Studies at the University of Michigan has been awarded $14 million by the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the 2024 elections in the United States.

The award extends the ANES, a widely used research data series at the U-M Institute for Social Research and preeminent source for studying public opinion, political participation, representation, accountability and democracy.

“The 2024 elections will occur at a moment of great uncertainty and change in American politics,” said Nicholas Valentino, research professor at ISR and professor of political science and communication and media.

“Long-standing political norms involving executive power, electoral legitimacy and the rule of law, as well as societal norms such as the proper balance of public health advice with individual freedom, are under challenge. What does the public make of these disruptions? The 2024 ANES will help scholars from multiple disciplines answer this question.”

In addition to Valentino, the project’s scientific leadership team includes Shanto Iyengar of Stanford University, D. Sunshine Hillygus of Duke University and Daron Shaw of the University of Texas.

After a nationwide competition, U-M’s Survey Research Center at ISR was selected to conduct the study’s data collection. The multi-university research team will be advised by an advisory board made up of a diverse group of 17 top public opinion scholars from around the country.

Due to its longevity, the ANES dataset provides researchers a unique opportunity to observe and document stability and change over time, Valentino said. The 2024 study will include key questions asked since the study’s inception in 1948, alongside new questions on topics such as public health, democratic norms and electoral legitimacy.

The centerpiece of the study will be the first eight-year panel in the history of the time series, connecting interviews with the same individuals from 2016, 2020 and 2024. Another innovation will be a social media study connecting individual survey responses to social media activity during the election, and a new survey of respondents during the final election certification process in January 2025.

The 2024 ANES will also collaborate with prominent research projects such as the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and the General Social Survey, linking detailed information about social demographic conditions to political attitudes and behavior. This will be in addition to the standard, large number of interviews from new respondents in order to provide the highest data quality available about the 2024 election itself.

The ANES investigators will also invite the public and scholarly community to submit ideas for new questions on important topics that are sure to arise.

The ANES is an acknowledged leader in data quality in the field of survey research. The 2024 ANES will use rigorous, modern research methods to survey a representative sample of eligible voters both before and after the 2024 election, using a combination of in-person, online, video and postal service interviewing. Special effort will be made to include traditionally underrepresented groups.

“The 2024 ANES includes several exciting methodological innovations. The 2016-24 reinterviews of the same respondents will permit systematic modeling of opinion dynamics over a period of extreme volatility,” Iyengar said. “These data will also open entirely new avenues of research into the spread of misinformation, support for political violence and threats to the legitimacy of our electoral institutions.”

ANES provides its data on its website as a free public good for the use of scholars, students, policymakers, journalists and all other interested persons in the U.S. and worldwide. ANES data have been used in thousands of journal articles, books, media presentations and dissertations. As part of the new grant, the 2024 team will make the data even more accessible by adding to the analysis and visualization tools on the ANES website.

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