What factors impact voting in America?

Conducting the American National Election Studies (ANES)


How do Americans really think and feel about topics like politics, health, work, school, retirement, and other subjects?

The American National Election Studies (ANES)—the premier survey covering voting, public opinion, and political participation in the United States—is a series of election studies that analyze public opinion and voting behavior in U.S. elections.

ANES explored a set of issues as part of the 2020 Time Series Study, which Westat conducted for Stanford University and the University of Michigan with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The 2016 Time Series Study, also conducted by Westat, included both an internet and face-to-face component. Although the 2020 ANES Time Series Study was expected to follow the same study design, the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person data collection impossible within the required timeframe.


Study participants were drawn from an address-based sample (ABS) of fresh respondents, as well as a re-interview of respondents from 2016.

Fresh sample respondents were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 protocols for the main interview administration:

  • Push-to-web only
  • Push-to-video (followed by push-to-telephone), with web self-administration also available as an option
  • Push-to-web, followed later in the field period by push-to-telephone

Respondents were recruited via a mail push-to-web. Fresh sample respondents completed an online questionnaire to sample 1 eligible respondent per sampled address.

Westat’s Multimode Manager (M3) controlled and implemented a complex mail and email protocol, consisting of dozens of hard-copy mailings and email reminders to each sampled case.

To retain the interviewer-respondent interaction experienced with in-person interviewing, Westat developed a video interviewing solution that was fully integrated into our ANES management system and Telephone Research Center.

We interviewed nearly 8,300 participants around the nation to learn how people really feel about American life today, as part of the pre-election data collection activity. An additional 7,400 interviews were completed during the post-election phase. Over 600 video interviews were successfully completed (350 during the pre-election component and 270 post-election).

While interviews administered via the phone represented less than 2% of the overall completes, the inclusion of the telephone mode helped improve sample representativeness.


Study results will provide the viewpoints of citizens and will inform explanations of election outcomes.


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