Home ] Up ] Perot, Bush, Clinton ] Withstanding the Wave ] Rise of Robopolling ] Marriage and the Courts ] Delegates and the Democrats ] How to Forecast an Election ] Case for Online Polls ] Presidency on Life Support ] Iowa Caucuses ] 2000: Clinton's Coattails ] [ NAES 2000 ] Support for Clinton ] Sampling Error ] Incumbent Rule ] Focus Groups ] Internet Polling ] Questions About Polling ]


Kate Kenski is a Senior Analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

This article appeared in the August 11, 2003, edition of The Polling Report.

The National Annenberg
Election Survey 2000

by Kate Kenski

In September, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) is releasing the most comprehensive academic survey ever conducted on American political attitudes and behavior. The 2000 National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES) contains over 100,000 interviews with adults in the U.S. The data set is included in the book Capturing Campaign Dynamics: The National Annenberg Election Survey: Design, Method and Data, published by Oxford University Press. Directed by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Richard Johnston, the NAES included measures of attitudes toward the presidential candidates and other politicians, news media exposure and attention, voting intentions and behavior, knowledge about candidate issue positions, and much more. In addition to its large sample size, the NAES is distinctive because:

(1) of the time period in which the survey was in the field,

(2) the survey was conducted with a rolling cross-section (RCS) design, and

(3) the content of the survey includes a comprehensive set of news media exposure, attention, and political knowledge measures.

The 2000 rolling cross-sectional survey, which began Nov. 8, 1999, and ended Jan. 19, 2001, included daily telephone interviews with average samples of 50 to 300 people. Because the survey began in November of 1999, researchers can analyze the dynamics of primary elections as never before. Moreover, the survey stayed in the field for more than two months after Election Day, during one of the more exciting periods in modern American political history—the 36 days of uncertainty over who had won the presidency.


The unique RCS design of the NAES allows political analysts to examine various dynamics across the campaign. Households throughout the nation were randomly selected using random-digit dialing. Unlike typical polls that release potential telephone numbers into the field at one time, the NAES design called for a release of a set number of "replicates" (random subsamples of the sampled telephone numbers) for interviewing each night to ensure that each daily cross-section was truly random.


The RCS procedures stabilize the proportion of people that answers the survey on a given number of call attempts in each daily cross-section. This allows researchers to look at data over time with the assurance that respondents who answer the survey at a given point in time look a lot like the respondents who answer the survey at another point in time. Because the composition of each cross-section is random, researchers can treat the date of interview as a chance event. A detailed explanation of the design can be found in Capturing Campaign Dynamics.


News Media Consumption

Jamieson selected the RCS design to permit analyses of the effects of campaign events and media coverage. The RCS design combined with a comprehensive set of media variables allows researchers to conduct such investigations.


Graph 1 shows the changes in news media consumption across the general election using seven-day moving averages. Americans paid the most attention to national television news during the 36-day dispute over the winner of the presidency.





Graph 1

Network and Cable News Exposure, and National TV News Attention



Other findings illustrate the power of the NAES design and content. The stability of party identification has long been a concern to academics and pollsters alike. Many academic models assume that party identification is a predictor of vote choice. Some researchers, however, have suggested that self-reported party identification is an attitude, which can be affected by the campaign, rather than a stable predisposition. This question is important to those who include party identification in the weighting of their data. Graph 2 reveals the fluctuations in the percentage of survey respondents who refer to themselves as independents. These changes appear systematic, rather than random, suggesting that party identification is not stable across the course of the general election.





Graph 2

Respondents Who Identify as Independents During General Election



Early and Absentee Voting

The NAES includes a battery of early and absentee voting questions. What is unique about these questions is that they were asked both before and after Election Day. Election Day is thought to be the time when American citizens cast their votes for the political leaders of their choice. The notion that American voters cast their ballots on a single day, however, is no longer accurate. Election Day is more accurately described as the last day when voting for candidates takes place.


In many states, citizens are given the opportunity to vote prior to Election Day by either balloting by mail or voting early at polling stations. In 2000, 21 states had no-fault absentee voting policies that allowed voting by absentee ballot without giving a reason, such as work, illness, or religious holiday conflict. Fourteen states provided early voting for their residents, which allowed citizens to cast ballots for a period up to three weeks before the general election at designated polling stations. Ten of these had both no-fault absentee and early voting policies. Oregon held all-mail voting elections in 2000; all registered voters received their ballots by mail. Around 46% of respondents in the national rolling cross-section lived in the 26 liberal absentee, early voting, or voting-only-by-mail (VOBM) states.


The NAES post-election survey shows that 15% of those who voted in the 2000 general election cast their ballots before Election Day. In those states with no-fault absentee balloting, early voting, and/or VOBM policies, 23.5% of the voters cast their votes before Election Day.


Graph 3 demonstrates that campaign surveys that fail to acknowledge that voting often takes place weeks before Election Day ignore an important campaign dynamic.





Graph 3

Percentage of Electorate That Voted Prior to Election Day



Why should it matter to campaigns that 15% of U.S. voters cast their ballots before Election Day? If all absentee and early voting ballots were cast the day before the election, then absentee and early voting would not greatly affect how campaigns are conducted. If absentee and early voting take place over the course of several weeks prior to Election Day, however, politicians would have to adopt different types of campaign strategies to ensure that they get their messages out before citizens have cast their ballots. The structure of absentee and early voting during the pre-election period, therefore, becomes important for political analysts to understand.


The five-day moving averages in Graph 3 reveal that by October 23, 15 days before Election Day, about 5% of the electorate had already voted. Nine days before Election Day, on October 29, 10% of the electorate had cast ballots. By November 4, 15% of the electorate had balloted.


In 2000, the NAES post-election sample suggests those casting their ballots before Election Day were 7.2% more likely to report having cast their ballots for Bush than those who voted on Election Day. This suggests that pre-election analyses should take absentee and early voters into account. Graph 4 shows the differences in the two-party vote preferences between those who intend to vote but have not done so and those who have already cast their ballots. A variable that combines responses to the voting intention question with those from the choices made by the early voters shows the razor thin difference in the vote preferences for Bush and Gore.





Graph 4

Percentage of Two-Party Vote Choice for Bush: Intention to Vote and Early Ballot, Oct. 16 to Nov. 6



These examples are just a few of the findings from this large data set. Reports of other NAES 2000 findings have been published in the book The Press Effect (Jamieson and Waldman, 2003) and in articles and research notes in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research (Kenski, Summer 2003), Presidential Studies Quarterly (Waldman and Jamieson, March 2003), and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Nov. 2000). Because of the NAES’ depth and breadth, APPC researchers have only scratched the surface in analyzing the data.


The NAES 2004 team includes a distinguished group of analysts, pollsters and researchers. This team will be led by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. To ensure that campaign events are appropriately reflected in the survey, Adam Clymer, former Chief Washington Correspondent of The New York Times, has joined the Washington office of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania as Washington Director. Based at the APPC’s offices in Philadelphia, Ken Winneg, former Vice President for Penn, Schoen and Berland, will serve as the Managing Director of the Survey.


Daily interviews for the 2004 survey begin on Nov. 1, 2003, and will continue through the presidential inauguration in 2005. Regular reports will be released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (www.appcpenn.org/naes).



Copyright © 2015 POLLING REPORT, INC., and polling/sponsoring organizations